SPECIAL OPERATIONAL BRIEFING FROM BAGHDAD
RE: ACTIVITIES OF THE 82ND AIRBORNE DIVISION
BRIEFER: MAJOR GENERAL CHARLES H. SWANNACK, JR.,
COMMANDER, 82ND AIRBORNE DIVISION
LOCATION: BAGHDAD, IRAQ
DATE: TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2003
STAFF: Good afternoon.
Appreciate your patience. I'd like to take just a moment to welcome
you and describe how we'll proceed today.
We have the distinct honor to have present with us today Major General
Charles H. Swannack, Jr. Most of you probably know General Swannack
already. He's the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division. He'll be first
providing some prepared comments with regard to the western district of CJTF
7, and then be available to answer questions.
For general information today, we'd like to just invite you to recognize
that General Swannack is an operational commander, he's not a policy guy or
a politician. So we invite you to confine your comments to operational
elements with regard to the 82nd and the western district. We'd appreciate
At this time, I would like to also remind you to tone-off your devices such
as your cell phones and others. And at the end -- we expect this briefing to
last approximately 30 minutes, and at which time I will say last question.
Okay, it's my distinct honor here to introduce you to General Swannack.
GEN. SWANNACK: "As-Salaam aleikum" and good evening to the Baghdad press
corps. It's really good to be here and see some of the friends I've
had out to the West and visiting us. I invite any of you at any time to come
out to Ar Ramadi to see us and find out firsthand what's going on out there
in Al Anbar province.
My name is Major General Chuck Swannack, as said, commanding general of the
82nd Airborne Division. And I intend to go ahead and conduct a press
conference here about every month, to go ahead and share with you the
progress being made out to the West. I intend to make some opening comments,
and then I'm going to go ahead and turn it to you to ask some questions.
Before I get started, though, I'd like to go ahead and talk about the
initial slide here. And if you notice something up there, that we are
serving in Al Anbar province, the double-A. And that's the patch that we
wear on our shoulders in the 82nd Airborne Division. We're called the "All
Americans" because when the 82nd Airborne Division was formed back in 1917
for World War II, it was found that 82nd was comprised of a soldier from
every state in the Union. And so I think it's a little bit fate that we're
serving out in Al Anbar province. But we're very proud of the division
that we serve in, but also very proud to be working out in Al Anbar province
with some great Iraqis out there.
Let me have the first slide, please.
A little bit about Al Anbar province and the battle space that we operate
in. If you look at this slide, what you'll see is that we extend all the way
from south of Baghdad, in towns like Iskandariyah and Mahmudiya (sp),
directly to the south, all the way out 530 kilometers to the borders with
Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. And this battle space is about 410
kilometers north to south, or it's about the size of the state of Wyoming.
Has some chief towns associated with it, most closest, and probably
some that you want to ask me some questions about -- Fallujah, then it goes
to Habbaniya, generally tracing the Euphrates River to the west, and then Ar
Ramadi, and then up towards Husaybah, which is on the Syrian border. Matter
of fact, it's a very important border port of entry. Down to the south, 850
kilometers of border with the three countries. Farthest south is the border
crossing port called Tanif (sp) in southern Syria, then Tribil (sp) at
Jordan, and then RR, that we've just started occupying on the Saudi Arabian
It's about a million and a half people, mostly in the population centers
between here and Ar Ramadi, and mostly Sunni in ethnic background.
Next slide, please. What I'd like to tell you upfront about Al Anbar
province is that the government is operating day to day by Iraqis out there;
very successfully, the government is being run by Iraqis. Governor Burgess
and the departments out there are very successful in the day-to-day
operations. They have a budget; they're using the budget as provided by the
ministries in conducting the business there.
There are some areas that need to be improved, as you can see from
this slide. Specifically in the area of immigration and customs, we're
standing up a border police that will fix that. The emergency services and
fire, as an example; they need hoses for their fire trucks. So there are
slight degradations in some of the essential services and services provided
by the government, however, these are being rectified through expenditures,
coalition expenditures and Iraqi expenditures.
I'd like to talk a little bit about the security situation, which is
probably prevalent mostly on your minds, but also on my mind on a daily
basis. And this is a good news story here. The 82nd Airborne Division
arrived about 60 days ago. We assumed control of the battle space on
the 19th of September. Day by day, we saw, initially after arriving, not
much action, as I think the enemy was trying to figure out who we were, who
are the new folks on the block. Shortly thereafter, we started having the
increasing attacks that we had every day, from in the teens to in the 20s,
and then most recently, two weeks ago, somewhere overall 35, which for
us was about nine or 10, upwards of 15 attacks a day.
The interesting thing to see in terms of the security situation out in
Al Anbar province right now is the fact that the attacks being made on us
are very much ineffective. If you see the blue bar out there, you can
see how just about every day now -- because I think we're being
successful in attacking the enemy that's trying to kill us and wound us,
we're making them much more ineffective. I think we've taken out a lot of
very good high-value targets, high- value targets on the 82nd Airborne
Division's list, on the brigades that work for us list on a daily basis, and
we're making progress in that.
And so the good news story is that we're getting -- we're taking the fight
to the enemy and we're making progress.
Also, look at the size of the -- number of IEDs that are discovered on a
daily basis. We had a steep learning curve to figure out exactly how these
individuals employing improvised explosive devices against us, and I
believe we can identify just about 50-50 now, 50 percent, one out of two we
identify an IED.
And the next slide, please.
The other good side of the security situation is the cooperation, the
popular support we're getting out in Al Anbar province. This kind of shows
you over time, since we've been there, the increase now in tips from the
populace, tips from individuals who are tired of the violence in their town
telling the police the location of an IED, the location of where an
individual is making an IED, the location of where SA-7 missiles are in a
cache, or other caches, as you can see up here in the pictures. More and
more, we're paying out rewards, as you can see, to Iraqi individuals that
come forth with this knowledge. So, I believe we're achieving success
in terms of garnering popular support to end this insurgency here.
Overall, our security architecture is improving day by day. And if I had to
tell you the one thing that I need to do on a daily basis here is grow the
Iraqi capacity for security. And that's in a couple of areas.
First of all, you see here, we are generating Iraqi Civil Defense Corps
units out in Al Anbar province. We'll ultimately achieve six battalions with
two brigade headquarters out to the west. That's about 5,400 Civil Defense
Corps military personnel.
We have right now about 6,400 individuals in the police force. However, a
majority of these police, about 50 percent, have not been sufficiently
trained. So we're running an Al Anbar Security College, a three-week
training course, to train the police and improve their skills, plus
on-the-job training once they go back to work their policing function.
Border patrol; we're starting our first course out near Nukhayb, just
north of RR, in training border police. And we'll go ahead and generate up
to 1,428 border policemen.
And the Facility Protective Services. We have more than enough Facility
Protective Service personnel right now. And what's going to happen is, when
we transfer these individuals over to the ministries in the middle of
December, we will go ahead roll some of those into the ICDC and into the
future policed ranks. The police will ultimately end up -- be
6,400. As we go through that process, we'll go ahead and retire some -- some
that cannot read and write. We'll go ahead dismiss them and replace them
with individuals from the FPS.
So we'll continue to grow daily the security architecture out in Al Anbar
The other thing that I have to work very, very hard on every day is drying
up the unemployment ranks. In towns like Fallujah, there's upwards of 60 to
70 percent unemployed right now. Unemployed in the vein of -- that's
probably 30 percent that do not have jobs of any sort and another 30 percent
that have some kind of job, make pay; more often than not, it's either
through smuggling, it's through attacking us they earn an income. And so
what we have to do is create jobs, so they have legitimate work to do that
they get paid for, as opposed to being available for some of the
former regime loyalists who approach them and get them to go ahead and carry
out the attack on Americans.
We've created almost 9,000 jobs in Al Anbar Province in the last two months.
Let me show the next slide.
And this is some of the areas -- we're going to continue to grow jobs
in Al Anbar and reduce the unemployment levels.
Superphosphate plant out in al Qaim. It's going to go ahead, and when we get
it up to full capacity, about 3,000 jobs, up from 400 currently.
The brick factory that we're going to go ahead and open up next week
-- it's got one furnace working right now. Next week it'll have three
furnaces. And you'll see it boosts three times, then, in the employment
I talked about ICDC and the border police.
Right now, in terms of captured enemy equipment consolidation
methodology we're using, there's lots of ammunition supply points throughout
Al Anbar Province. And as we go about collecting these munitions and
consolidated these munitions, we're using right now a total of 600 Iraqi
workers and 100 trucks from the Al Anbar truckers' union. Additionally,
you'll see that we're trying to sign a contract in the next couple days with
the Al Anbar truckers' union, to go ahead and use them to go ahead and
transport our supplies throughout the battle space from our -- one forward
operating base to another forward operating base.
And through construction and restoration of Iraqi facilities, we're going to
have probably the biggest impact of increasing to about 3,000 jobs. Right
now we're restoring mosques throughout Al Anbar Province. About 315 of
the 700 mosques in the area, we're refurbishing those. We're improving the
sewer systems and cleaning that out. Health clinics, schools, we've done a
lot of work in. And those construction projects will increase significantly
the jobs in the Al Anbar Province. And that's our biggest effort, to go
ahead and create a more secure environment.
I believe the security growth that we'll have of somewheres around about
6,000 jobs in the security apparatus, plus these 12,000 jobs, that will go
ahead and create an environment where there won't be that many youths out on
the streets for former regime loyalists to go ahead and hire to attack
Americans. They'll also see the positive benefit to a new Iraq.
So let me have the last slide here.
So where we are on a glide path now to the future in Iraqization. I talked
to you about governance. We're doing a great job. We're on the glide path to
go ahead and get the security situation under control. We are infusing jobs
into the society to reduce the unemployment numbers. And the one bright spot
is that essential services out there in Al Anbar are better now than they
were during the -- prior to the war.
So with that, let me go ahead and answer any questions that you might have
for me on any subject. Right here in the middle, in front.
Q Thank you very much. In Arabic, please. (In Arabic.)
GEN. SWANNACK: Okay. Two very good questions.
First of all, regarding the borders. The borders have been very porous over
the previous months. However, since the 82nd Airborne Division has been in
Al Anbar Province, we've increased three-fold the amount of soldiers
performing the missions. That's three times the capacity of what was there
before in the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. So we have postured along the
border right now elements of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment that's
shutting down the borders.
In terms of the fighters that we find as we prosecute the fight
against the enemy, in just about 90 percent of the cases they are former
regime loyalists, Wahhabist Iraqis. The other 10 percent -- and thus far,
we've -- I think our numbers are we've found and captured about 13
foreign fighters and killed seven foreign fighters. So you see the
difference in who it is we're fighting. What I'm trying to tell you is, in
reference to your question, we are not finding foreign fighters coming
across the borders in significant numbers to do the fighting; we're finding
mostly former regime loyalists doing that.
Secondarily, you asked about the increase in the attacks on friendly forces.
Yes, there was a steady growth, and I tried to show you how that's turned
around in terms of attacks, being effective attacks. We're receiving less
attacks right now, over the last two weeks, in Al Anbar province, and less
-- even less effective attacks.
Example. The enemy might use an RPG to go ahead and try to fire into the
compound that we occupy, and it's way off the mark; doesn't even come close.
IEDs that are put out on the side of the road that come nowhere close
to attacking a convoy, ineffective. And their mortar fires, additionally,
very, very ineffective.
So, I believe we're taking a chunk, huge chunk out of the organization of
this insurgency, the capabilities of this insurgency, through our
attacks, very surgical, precision attacks to take out targets. The populace
is now telling us where those targets are located, and we can go ahead and
prosecute the fight against them and take them out through cordon and
searches. We're very successful in that.
So, I believe I can show you evidence in Al Anbar province that the attacks
are going down. As a matter of fact, in the last 24 hours, before I left the
headquarters, we had one attack; yesterday we had nine attacks total, of
which one was an effective attack.
Okay. Yes, back here.
Q Jeff Wilkinson with Knight Ridder Newspapers. Do your countermeasures
include destroying the homes of suspected insurgent fighters? And under what
circumstances would that occur?
GEN. SWANNACK: We try to take away the capability of the enemy. If it's a
safe house, it's a house that's been identified and used by enemy
elements to produce IEDs, yes, we do go ahead and prosecute the fight
against that house. We did that down near Mahmudiya the other day, where six
individuals who had participated in an attack on U.S. forces were identified
to have made the IEDs, kept their weapons, were actually found to be in this
house. We apprehended them and detained them, removed all the family members
out of the house, and we destroyed the house.
Q In the past two days, the 4ID has destroyed 15 homes as part of their
operations. Sometimes it's just suspects that they are seeking, and the
families won't turn them over. Does your methods go to that level? And can
you give me any idea how many homes perhaps have been destroyed in your area
GEN. SWANNACK: I can't speak specifically about what's going on with the 4th
Infantry Division. General Odierno would have to answer that question.
But we've used fires from U.S. Air Force aircraft on three occasions:
one against a home that was identified as being utilized by these six
individuals in fighting against us; the other two cases were buildings that
were being used to supply caches, to maintain caches of weapons. And we had
secondary explosions come out of these buildings.
I'd like to tell you up front, though, in the case of the house that
was being occupied, we removed all the individuals, family members,
out of that house; removed all the livestock from around the house; stopped
the traffic from out in front of the house when we prosecuted the
fight, to minimize collateral damage. We did the same effort up there taking
out the two caches that we bombed, one in Husaibah (sp) and one in the
vicinity of Fallujah.
Q Thank you, Major General. My name is Tanaka (sp), from -- Japanese NHK TV
correspondent. Relating to helicopters, Chinook, shot down on November 2nd,
last night there was a statement on Lebanese TV of the group called Mohammed
Army. What is your reaction to this statement, and who is Mohammed Army,
according to you? Thank you.
GEN. SWANNACK: I've heard reports the Mohammed Army, Wahhabis,
background -- I don't know much more about them, but we have several leads
on the individuals who supposedly perpetrated the attack on the Chinook
helicopter. We are systematically getting tips on who did that, and
we'll go ahead and find them. No question in my mind that we will ultimately
track them down and find them. And so we're going to go ahead and do that.
Back here in the back.
Q (Name inaudible) from the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. General, in
Fallujah, you will hear any number of complaints from the local
population, including senior tribal leaders and other town elders, about
random shooting by American troops in response to attacks by insurgents,
about very heavy-handed searches of houses and citizens, and about a general
arrogance and lack of respect for local customs. How do you respond to that?
GEN. SWANNACK: Well, first of all, I'll tell you that we're dealing with
paratroopers in Fallujah, very disciplined, very combat-ready and well
trained. And in every case, they know how to utilize the rules of engagement
and conduct their business. They have received cultural awareness training.
Now, when we go ahead and conduct coordinate searches, we set the
environment and then go ahead and selectively go inside the houses to check
out the various houses. We try to do this in every case with Iraqi police.
The Iraqi police are there to be our cultural support in terms of how we
handle and search males, how we, if we need to, detain women. Matter of
fact, if any women are detained through our operations, I, the commanding
general, have withheld that I make the determination whether or not we
retain -- or detain any women.
Now, the other side of the coin is this that I have to tell you about. In
Fallujah, Fallujah is an interesting town, very much tribal oriented, very
much religious oriented. In our operations in Fallujah, historically we have
had the enemy mingle in civilian clothes with civilians, which makes
it much more difficult. They have subjected their own people to attacks with
RPGs and IEDs trying to attack us. And so I have a very, very surgical
capability in the way we do and do coordinate searches.
And oh, by the way, every trooper in the 82nd Airborne Division has what's
called close combat optics, and those allow you to go ahead and put the dot
where you want to shoot somebody. If you want to shoot them in the arm and
they pull the trigger, that's where the round goes. If you want to shoot to
kill, you can do that also. Our troopers are very, very well trained to go
ahead and use this close combat optics system. And when we aim at something,
that's what we hit.
Yes, over here?
Q (In Arabic.)
GEN. SWANNACK: A very good question about the future of the Iraqi army
and the ability to go ahead and incorporate trained individuals and
officers, general officers, potentially in the future Iraqi army. I'm
meeting on Thursday with former officers from the 12th Brigade, that was
headquartered out in Ramadi. You may remember this brigade as the brigade
that capitulated during the war to the 3rd of the 7th Cav, the 3rd Infantry
Division unit, that went out to Ar Ramadi and accepted the capitulation of
this organization. They had about 1,500 soldiers that went back to their
homes after the capitulation. So here's a prime example of having officers
that we can utilize in the new Iraqi army and soldiers that are
trained and we can utilize in the new Iraqi army, and that's what our
program is. I'm meeting with the general officers to attempt to go ahead and
sign them up for either the civil defense corps, temporarily, and then move
them into the new Iraqi army, and I also use the consultation services of
these former general officers to benefit the 82nd Airborne Division as
we put together the civil defense corps and also the new Iraqi army.
Right back there in the back. Yes, you sir.
Q (Off mike.)
GEN. SWANNACK: Right behind you, yes.
Q General, Alan -- (inaudible) -- CBS News. Could you tell us a bit more
about these reports that you plan to pull all your troops back in Ramadi by
early in the new year?
GEN. SWANNACK: Yes, I'd be glad to talk about that. I met with a
reporter the other day and talked to him about the situation in Al- Ambar
province specifically, town by town. Some towns are a little bit more
hostile towards coalition forces. Other towns, the police are working
very well; the facility protective services are working well; they're
working well with us. And Ar Ramadi is just one situation. Ar Ramadi,
the police are working in concert with us; the police are doing a very
credible job. We still need to continue training on them, but I believe our
joint operations with the police in Ar Ramadi between now and around the 1st
of January will allow us to move to a second stage in regards to security
for Ar Ramadi, the town, and that is where American forces step back, pull
some joint patrols with the Iraqi police, but allow the police to go
ahead and do the major functions. Should something get out of hand, we'll be
in radio communication with them, and we'll be able to go ahead and assist
them. But it's more so they're taking the lead, we're taking a back-up, and
that's a positive step for Iraqi-ization, and that's where we want to go. Ar
Ramadi is getting very close to being -- having the conditions to go ahead
and conduct this kind-of-like transition around the 1st of January, I
Yes. Lady in the back.
Q General Swannack -- (inaudible) -- with Voice of America. I asked this
question to General Kimmett last night, and I didn't really quite get an
answer from him. The question I asked was that, a few days ago, you had done
also another interview in which you said that Saddam Hussein might have laid
-- planted the seeds of a guerrilla war before he fled. And a few days later
after that, General Abizaid basically said that's probably not the case. I'm
just wondering, from your perspective, what made you say that? And what is
your opinion on that now?
GEN. SWANNACK: Okay, very good. First of all, I have the utmost confidence
and trust in General Abizaid, and he's the right individual to be
leading our forces in this fight, the global war on terrorism. As a matter
of fact, as he said, I am -- we are personal friends.
But, to answer your question -- and I will answer your question -- it's a
moot point in that how we got to where we are today. I say that
because General Abizaid and I see exactly today how we're supposed to fight
the current enemy. How we got here, he's got a perception, I've got an
idea, an assessment, and probably military analysts down the road will
figure this all out.
But, to answer your question where I came to the assessment that I
have. You may not know this, but the 82nd Airborne Division fought north as
part of the element to go ahead and secure the 3rd Infantry Division's lines
of communication, along with the 101st, we were there. We came through towns
like As Samawa, moved north to Ad Diwaniyah (?), Al Hillah, Karbala. I was
amazed at the amount of arms and ammunition stockpiled in homes, in not
completely built homes, just sitting there, that we collected up. I didn't
think much of it. When I listened on TACSAT to Major General Buff Blount in
coming into Baghdad and finding these brand new constructed homes, not
occupied, full of mines and RPGs and AK-47s, I thought it odd. I thought
that possibly these were left for the Saddam Fedayeen to go ahead and attack
But what happened? Republican Guards pretty much withered away. Some fought
the 3rd Infantry Division; others just walked away. Saddam Fedayeen, some
attacked us and some also went away. And so that's when I started thinking
that, well, when this insurgency started up and the attacks started
increasing; oh, by the way, the attacks are more sophisticated that we
received recently, from trained individuals possibly involved with the
IIS or the Republican Guards, that's where I came with my assessment: There
might have been a branch plan. Maybe Saddam didn't figure it out, but one of
his lieutenants, subordinates did, that should there be a quick fall or an
ultimate fall of Iraq, that there would be an insurgency and possibly an
ability to go ahead and continue this war on a lower scale, low- intensity
conflict scheme. That's where I came up with my assessment.
Again, I respect General Abizaid. And it's a moot point how we got here, but
we're fighting the same enemy and we're going to win this fight, no question
in my mind.
Over here, sir?
Q (In Arabic.)
GEN. SWANNACK: Well, I will tell you that we will not stay here one
day more than we're needed, but we're not going to leave any day
sooner than we're required. And so if Fallujah police provide the
capacity to maintain security, if Fallujah does not harbor enemy personnel
that want to attack coalition forces or destabilize or disrupt ongoing
governmental events, then I am ready to step back and let the Fallujah
police take on and control Fallujah, the security apparatus in Fallujah.
Similarly, when the border police demonstrate the capacity to secure the
borders of Iraq with Syria, with Jordan and with Saudi Arabia, we will be
ready to step back.
And I envision this, of letting -- of training and developing that capacity
of security forces, jointly training them on the job, stepping back and
checking them that they are capable of doing the job, and then stepping back
even further to allow them to do the job and we're the backup, backup in the
cities and outside the cities, that we can respond into the cities, or
regionally at some point in time, or maybe ultimately outside the country,
So that's how I see it. But they have the develop the capacity, they have to
show the capability before we're ready to do that and acquiesce to their
Q Steve Cabbie (sp) from AFP. You mentioned the importance of the tribes in
Fallujah. I understand in recent days and weeks, there have been a string of
meetings between the U.S. military and tribal chiefs in Fallujah. I wonder
whether they've had any impact on the reduction in the number of effective
attacks, and also, what had been said to the tribal chiefs to bring that
GEN. SWANNACK: What was said by General Abizaid and myself in the meeting
with tribal sheikhs the other day was that our patience is wearing
very thin on the attacks of coalition forces in Fallujah and in Al Anbar
Province, and that we're not going to tolerate it. And I believe that
message was carried back to the tribal members by the sheikhs and that's why
we have seen a reduction in the amount of attacks on coalition forces in
Fallujah. Fallujah has become quite quiet.
The good news is Fallujah has become quite quiet in recent days, and I
believe it's because they have decided to take control of their
destiny. That's another thing General Abizaid and I spoke of, taking control
of your destiny in the new Iraq, because there will not be resumption
of the old regime. We're moving on to a new Iraq. They can either be
part of it or they can fight it. And in fighting it, they'll lose, because
we will take them out and we will prevail.
Yes, back here.
Q General, the president of the United States has been on the record
saying Iraq has become the forefront of fighting international terrorism.
Supposedly, most of these terrorists are operating from your area, but
you're saying you haven't seen any of them. Do you see any contradiction
between White House statements and what you see on the ground?
GEN. SWANNACK: No, I don't see any contradiction. I think they're operating
to some degree within the country, some of them probably in Al Anbar
Province. I think that we are all committed to rooting out these terrorists
here in Iraq, here in the Middle East, throughout the world, rather than
having to fight them on American soil. And that's exactly what the president
wants to do, and that's exactly what he's directed us to do, and that's what
Over here, yes.
Q Hi -- (inaudible) -- from the Wall Street Journal. Obviously a big
part of what you're trying to do as far as job creation and the like is
winning the hearts and minds of Iraqis in your province. Those same Iraqis
are seeing news reports, reading articles about the increasing use of heavy
weaponry in Baghdad and Tikrit and Abu Ghraib. Doesn't it make it
harder to try to win the hearts of an Iraqi in your area of operations
when they're seeing warplanes and attack helicopters and tanks again being
used in civilian areas?
GEN. SWANNACK: I think it demonstrates or resolve. You said it, this
is war. And we're going to prosecute the war not holding one hand behind our
back. When we identify positively an enemy target, we're going to go ahead
and take it out with every means we have available. I like to remember what
Viscount Slim said during the Burma campaign. He said, "Use a sledgehammer
to crush a walnut." And that's exactly what we will do. We will use force,
overwhelming combat power when it's necessary.
In a similar vein, what's so interesting about American soldiers and
paratroopers is that at one moment, they're a warrior; the next moment,
they're the most compassionate individual on the face of the Earth, handing
out chocolate and candy to kids; water to townspeople; providing
humanitarian rations. I remember down in As Samawa, the first thing we did
after the fight in As Samawa was we put a ROPU in the water, the Euphrates
River, and produced potable water and handed it out to the populace.
So, yes, we're going to go ahead and take the fight to the enemy using
everything in our arsenal necessary to go ahead and win this fight. And on
the same side, we're going to be as compassionate as we can -- minimize
collateral damage during a fight, but be as compassionate as we can to
go ahead and show the Iraqi people that we are not fighting them. We're
fighting the former regime loyalists, the foreign fighters, the extremists
that want to go ahead and attack us and disrupt and destabilize what's
trying to go on here.
Yes, you had a question in the front right here.
Q Could you talk a little bit more about the 12th Brigade and what you would
hope to get out of them? Do you see them coming back in their
entirety, and officers as well as lower-level soldiers, because there's been
a -- as you know, the military was released at the -- in late May, and I'm
just wondering how that fits with the former policy or if this is a sort of
gradual relooking at that in a specific place.
GEN. SWANNACK: No, this is no policy change. The 12th Brigade will not come
back as the 12th Brigade. But elements of it, which are very useful in terms
of the leadership that was in the 12th Brigade, the talented soldiers and
noncommissioned officers in the 12th Brigade, there is utility for
them in the future, either in the civil defense corps or the new Iraqi army.
So the 12th Brigade will not come back, but we want to use the talent in
that former brigade in the new structure of the Iraqi army or security
Over here. You've had your hand up for a while, sir.
Q (In Arabic.)
GEN. SWANNACK: Okay. First, regarding Fallujah, Fallujah will be turned over
to Iraqis when the conditions present themselves for security, for
governance, for essential services in the economy; that they can go ahead
and run a democratic, secure and stable Fallujah.
I don't know when that's going to be. I don't. I cannot tell you a
time line when that's going to happen. It's all about generating the
police capacity; the Civil Defense Corps, which -- we're going to have two
battalions located in vicinity of Fallujah, in Kharma (sp), in Saqliweah
(sp), that area. It's going to be those events, successful events, that
allow us to go ahead and step back and turn over the security situation to
I have to tell you, though, that in recent weeks, the integration and the
teamwork between coalition forces and the police in Fallujah has been
tremendous -- strong improvement in Fallujah.
And so we're on a glide path to do that. I can't tell you exactly the date
or the time that -- when that'll happen. It's more event-driven than it is
Q Anthony Shadid with The Washington Post. General, you had mentioned that
there was -- I think I recall the number as 13 foreign fighters apprehended
and seven killed. What is that time period? And do you have an estimate on
how many may have passed through? I'm just trying to get a sense of how much
a threat they might pose in Al Anbar.
GEN. SWANNACK: I think it's difficult for me to go ahead and answer that. I
say that because we've only been here for the last 60 days.
And we relieved the 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment, which was responsible for
the battle space I described to you and showed you before -- huge battle
space. They have about 7,000. The force that I have -- we have here now is
about 20,000 individuals. And so, by virtue of that, since we've gotten here
and repositioned the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment along the border, I
believe we've shut down the flow of foreign fighters into the country.
Probably some come through. You know, this region of the world and across
those borders for 2,000 years there's been smuggling. And I assume there's
continued to be smuggling, and with the smugglers come some foreign
So, we're going to go ahead and continue to work that. I think we've been
successful. We identified six foreign fighters at the border the other day.
We tried to go ahead and apprehend them. One of them pulled a knife on us,
and we shot him. That individual died. And we secured and detained the other
five. But that's an example of how we're trying to secure the borders of
Iraq with the neighbors. So, I think we're doing a lot better job at it
right now. But again, I want to underscore, we're finding mostly that the
attacks on coalition forces are from former regime loyalists and Iraqis, not
Right over here.
Q Charles Cliver (sp) with the Financial Times. General, do you have any
formal channels of communication with the guerrillas at all? I mean,
do you have any -- do they have any way to transmit any political demands to
you? Do you have any sense that they might be able to participate in a
provisional government or something like that?
GEN. SWANNACK: We do not have any communication with enemy elements at all.
We do get tips on enemy elements. We do detain and apprehend enemy elements,
and we go ahead and interrogate them; some more successfully, get
information from them. But in no regards do we have the ability to cut deals
or work that piece. That's not really the function of the coalition forces
in that regard.
I can take probably two more questions.
Q Mike Dorning (sp), the Chicago Tribune. Just on two separate, related
topics that have already been raised. You mentioned that in Ramadi you felt
like probably by January 1st things would be well enough in hand that
things could mostly be left to the Iraqi police, and the troops would
largely be withdrawn from the streets. Are there any other areas in the
province where you feel like that will happen sooner? Do you have a date you
can give us?
And secondly, on another topic that's been raised, on the stepped-up
campaign, more aggressive, forceful campaign with the enemy, can you
tell us what the thinking was in starting that at this point in time and
give us your assessment of how effective this shift in tactics has been so
GEN. SWANNACK: First question, I really can't identify any other
towns. The standout for me is Ar Ramadi. As an example, the other day in
Kaldea, a group from Kaldea came forth and said they were tired of the
violence in Kaldea; "We want to take over control, and we will stop attacks
on coalition forces." So I'm starting to see more of those come along. We're
not there yet in Fallujah; we're not there yet in Husaybah; Hit
might be pretty soon; I'm not so sure about Arutba (ph), out in the far
west. But we're looking at that and working that hard. And I think we'll see
a lot more of these towns come forth and try to go ahead and say, "We
want to go ahead and stop the violence and move on with securing and
governing them ourselves."
The second piece of that is the use of the weapon systems we're using right
now. I think it demonstrates, with the recent attacks, whether they be on a
CH-47 Chinook or on the helicopters or the vehicle-borne IEDs, that our
resolve is strong and we're not going to tolerate that. Every case, every
time we utilize a weapon system, we go through a very deliberate process
trying to figure out what's the best system to use. And I think that as
commanders, we might have been a little bit reluctant previously to use
aerial gunships, AC-130 or U.S. Air Force aircraft and precision-guided
munitions. Now there's no holds barred on what we used. We use what
necessary capabilities and combat power that we need to use to go ahead and
take the fight to the enemy and also minimize collateral damage.
One last question. Back right there. Sir.
Q Peter Grasso (sp) from the BBC. I just want to ask two questions. First of
all, the reference to the question over whether Saddam Hussein or remnants
of his regime may have been preparing for a guerrilla war. The key
implication of that is it implies some level of organization, some command
structure, some kind of preparation that gives the resistance movement some
kind of form and structure that you're fighting against. Are you
detecting that kind of form and structure? Is that what drew you to that
conclusion in the first place?
And secondly, do you see that fighting a guerrilla insurgency using those
kinds of weapons that you just spoke about -- heavy weapons, artillery,
gunships, and so on -- is that necessarily the appropriate way of doing
this? Because in other conflicts like this, often that seems to be
GEN. SWANNACK: Two good questions to close on.
First of all, on the architecture running the insurgency right now, I would
guess, based upon -- or my assessment is that there is some loose
architecture on a regional basis directing some of the attacks;
decentralized execution of the attacks, but some loosely organized command
and control structure that provides capabilities and direction.
I don't have any evidence to suggest that other than my instincts and seeing
some things that have happened. Four (VB ?) IEDs in Baghdad on one day.
About a month ago there were five or six police either assassinated or
killed about the same time. And so some of these activities of shooting down
helicopters at a certain time, might be all coincidences, or it might be
directed in some means. So that tells me -- I don't know if there's a
national architecture, but a regional architecture. And that's where I need
the intelligence organizations of the coalition to go ahead and figure that
out, some help in that. Because I believe we're doing a good job out in Al
Anbar province taking out the capabilities that are attacking us, and maybe
some of the leaders just above that. But then the main architecture, the
financiers, the ones who provide IEDs, the ones who provide munitions, the
capabilities, we've got to start taking out that level, and that's where we
need better intelligence or better tips to go ahead and take that out.
And, you know, you might think about guerrilla war in Vietnam; a lot of
people try to go back there, or back to recent conflicts that we had;
Panama more recently, which wasn't quite guerrilla war. But you see the
nature of our military now is we can do munitions from platforms way
overhead that are very surgical and have very little collateral damage. And
they're fleeting targets; these targets that we go after are very fleeting
targets. They're there for a little while and then they're gone. And so we
have to use these capabilities to go ahead and take that fight to the enemy.
And why not? We're at war. If you go ahead and try to get the target
identified positively as the enemy, and that's the best system to
attack it, and it's the timeliest target to get on site while the enemy is
there, let's use it and minimize the collateral damage. We go through a very
deliberate battle -- collateral damage determination. And that's why we use
it. It's the right systems.
In my 32 years in the Army, the ability for joint teamwork has improved
dramatically; the ability for joint munitions and precision munitions has
also improved dramatically, and it's a wonderful tool for the ground
Thank you all. And again, I invite you to come on out to Al Anbar
province, to Ar Ramadi and visit us at any time. Glad to see you. Thank you
very much. Good evening.