COALITION PROVISIONAL AUTHORITY BRIEFING WITH
LIEUTENANT GENERAL RICARDO SANCHEZ
LOCATION: BAGHDAD, IRAQ
DATE: THURSDAY, JANUARY 29, 2004
GEN. SANCHEZ: Good afternoon. Good to be back here again after a couple weeks.
A great deal has happened since my last press conference. And we continue to
make great progress here in Iraq trying to create this secure and stable
environment. We've completed a significant number of projects in the ongoing
program of reconstructing the infrastructure and the economy of the country.
STAFF: (Off mike.)
GEN. SANCHEZ: It's not being translated?
STAFF: (Off mike.)
GEN. SANCHEZ: It is now? Okay.
STAFF: Too fast, huh? Okay, I'll slow down. (Laughs.)
Q From the beginning.
GEN. SANCHEZ: From the beginning again?
GEN. SANCHEZ: Okay. (Laughs.)
Q (Off mike.)
GEN. SANCHEZ: Sure.
As I said, a lot has happened since we were last present here in front of you.
The coalition has continued to make great progress in creating the secure and
stable environment that's necessary for the country to move toward sovereignty.
We've completed a significant amount of projects in the ongoing reconstruction
of the economy of the country and we've made great progress in the
infrastructure as well.
Our aggressive efforts to kill or capture former regime elements and other
noncompliant forces, foreign fighters and other threats that are out there that
are continuing to attack the Iraqi people have been particularly successful this
past week. Among the captured was Hassan Ghul, who reported directly to Khalid
Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of the September 11th, 2001 attacks in the United
For months I've been saying that al Qaeda's fingerprints have been here in Iraq.
Those are showing themselves in the techniques that were being employed by
foreign fighters, and this included the tactics being employed by suicide
bombers against innocent Iraqis and against coalition forces.
Of course, the capture of Ghul is pretty strong proof that al Qaeda is trying to
gain a foothold here to continue their murderous campaigns. Ghul's capture is
great news for both the Iraqis, for the coalition and for the international
community's war against terror. As we have noted previously, the enemies of Iraq
are changing their tactics. Increasingly, Iraqi citizens and civil servants are
the targets. More than 20 Iraqi citizens died and 60 were wounded in the attack
near Assassin's Gate last week. Those who died were mainly workers helping to
build a new country. It's important to note that these Iraqis were attacked
because they supported a free and a democratic country. They were killed by
those who want to see this country turn back towards terrorism, dictatorship,
and those who have a fear of moving forward towards democracy in this part of
As domestic terrorists and foreign fighters attempt to advance their cause at
the expense of the Iraqi people, more and more Iraqis are rejecting the old
regime and joining the future of this country. Earlier this week in Mosul, more
than 5,300 former Ba'athists took an oath denouncing the Ba'ath Party,
denouncing violence and terrorism, and declared their support for a new free and
democratic future. This follows earlier mass denunciations in the areas south
and northwest of Mosul. These denunciations are positive developments. I
encourage those supporters of the failed Saddam Hussein regime to reconsider
their personal allegiances and take their place in the new Iraq by continuing to
renounce violence and terrorism, and by separating themselves from those who
seek a return to state-sponsored repression. Embrace the future and join your
countrymen in building a new Iraq.
Every week we are seeing more and more Iraqis make a contribution to the future.
Many are doing so by joining their nation's security forces. Today, there are
more Iraqis providing security for their country in any of the security forces
than there are coalition forces here in Iraq. Last Saturday, the size of the
Iraqi army increased by nearly 60 percent when the third battalion graduated
from their training in Kirkush. The Iraqi military will serve as a unifying
national force for people of all religions and ethnic backgrounds.
Additionally, there are now also more than 19,000 personnel in the Iraqi civil
defense corps, with over 3,200 still in training. In Baghdad earlier this month,
596 applied to enter the Iraqi police academy. In addition, the Iraqi police and
ICDC have begun to take on more and more responsibility for the internal
security of Iraq. Today, the first class of Iraqi police graduates came from --
completed their training in Jordan. They will be used here in Baghdad, and we
graduated a total of 466 professional policemen.
Now, if I may, some of the more significant results of independent ICDC
operations this week included the capture of anti- coalition elements in
Asanayah (sp), Abeji (sp), and Jazaralaklak (sp). These are individuals that
were suspected of conducting attacks against the coalition and against the
people. The ICDC confiscated an array of weapons and ammunition.
And then last Saturday, in the first joint raid not involving coalition forces,
but being supervised by coalition forces, the ICDC and the Iraqi police captured
anti-coalition forces responsible for hostile activities and robberies in the
Iraqi security forces also provided security on the hajj travel routes and rest
areas, in support of the pilgrims.
As Iraq moves forward, the CJTF is rotating our forces, and we will replace them
with a tailored force that is capable of dealing with the current and foreseen
requirements. The inbound force will be fully up to the task of providing a safe
and secure environment in the country and will be able to continue effectively
and efficiently the reconstruction of the nation's infrastructure.
This process, which started in November, will be completed by May. And we
appreciate the support of the Iraqi people, who have been quite patient as we
rotate those forces in and out of the country by air and land convoys.
The transition is going extremely well. It is under way, and it will continue,
essentially, on a daily basis, until the May time frame.
In the area of civil-military operations, we continue to make progress restoring
critical infrastructure and public services throughout Iraq. And this week we
completed another 233 projects and executed over $2.6 million in programs funded
by the Commanders' Emergency Response Fund. And to date, we have used CERP to
support more than $151 million on over 1,500 -- or -- correction -- 15,000
projects throughout the country. While it doesn't always make the news, good
developments in Iraq far outweigh the bad, and day by day, Iraqis continue to
progress towards their destiny as a prosperous, free and democratic people.
I'll now take your questions. Yes, sir?
Q (Through interpreter.) The new Iraqi army, do you think -- will he be able to
undertake the responsibilities after the withdrawal of the American forces?
GEN. SANCHEZ: Will the new Iraqi army be able to assume the security
responsibilities once the coalition forces depart? That is exactly what we are
working towards so that Iraqi security forces, to include the army and the
police, will be able to maintain law and order in the country upon the departure
of the coalition when that time is right.
In the back, sir?
Q Rod Nordland from Newsweek. General, to follow up on that, will that mean that
once sovereignty is turned over to the Iraqis, that the coalition forces will
retain command of Iraqi forces until they leave?
GEN. SANCHEZ: Retain command -- sir, what we're doing at this point in time is
the Iraqi security forces are under the tactical control of the coalition
forces, and as we continue to build the capacity of the Iraqi security forces
across the spectrum, the Iraqis will, in fact, assume command and retain command
of those forces. We will continue to operate with them in coordination and
synchronizing operations with them over time. And as the army build its
capacities and is capable of conducting its independent operations, they'll be
able to make those decisions within their own national command authority
Q (Through interpreter.) (Name and affiliation inaudible.) You mentioned that
you managed to capture Hassan Ghul. (Inaudible) -- and did you have an idea of
the areas where terrorists prevail, especially in Baghdad or any other
governates in Iraq? And did you have any information from him regarding the
terrorists in the areas of Iraq? Thank you.
GEN. SANCHEZ: The question is, did we get any information from Hassan Ghul on
where the terrorists are prevailing across the country. Obviously, it wouldn't
be appropriate for me to give you that sort of specific intelligence and detail,
but I think it's fairly clear where the terrorists are operating here in the
country just from looking at where the majority of incidents are occurring.
Ma'am, in the back?
Q Anne Garrels, National Public Radio. Do you have any more information on the
nationalities of the suicide bombers? Is there any indication that Iraqis may,
in fact, now be doing this?
GEN. SANCHEZ: No, ma'am, we do not. We have not been able to establish the
identity of any of the suicide bombers that have been successful. We do know
that those that we have prevented for the most part have been foreigners. And we
had a Yemeni that was specifically caught in the first day of Ramadan.
Yes, sir? In the back, on the left. You, sir.
Q Quil Lawrence from the BBC. About the al Qaeda operations here in the country
-- what do you know about their infrastructure? Have they been operating here
for a long time? Do you see them cooperating with former regime elements? And do
you know how long that cooperation, if any, has been going on? Thanks.
GEN. SANCHEZ: Well, as I've been stating -- and now it's a little bit clearer
for us -- their tactics, their techniques and their procedures have been here
for a while. The extent of the infrastructure and the extent of their operations
here is still evolving, and we're pretty intensely focused on establishing that.
Q (Off mike) -- been here for quite a long time? Months? Years?
GEN. SANCHEZ: Well, as I've stated, it's their tactics, their techniques and
procedures that have been here for -- at least dating back to the Italian
bombing, possibly even before that. But in terms of a specific date, I couldn't
give you that, and it wouldn't be appropriate to give you that level of detail.
All the way in the back. Sir?
Q Thanks, General. Just to clarify that a little more, do you have any evidence
that al Qaeda cells are actually operating here? And do you have any idea what
Ghul was doing here? Was he recruiting? Did he have orders that he was carrying
And also part of that question: Are any -- have any of these suicide bombings
we've seen here been carried out by al Qaeda?
GEN. SANCHEZ: Ghul is a courier, as I stated, for Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and --
suspect that that's what he was doing. And in terms of do we specifically know
what operations they have done, it would be inappropriate for me to discuss that
Q But active cells? Do you know -- does al Qaeda have active cells in Baghdad
GEN. SANCHEZ: Yeah, that would also be inappropriate for me to discuss.
Q (Through interpreter.) From Al Farat (sp) international newspaper. You
mentioned that there is progress in the security issue and in the reconstruction
of the infrastructure or economy infrastructure. So in Dora (ph), company --
there were three generating plants working, and when the American troops came
in, only one plant is now working. Have you made any achievements or steps
regarding the rebuilding of these three or the other two generating plants?
GEN. SANCHEZ: The question is that in Dora, there used to be three generating
plants; and when the Americans came, only one was working after that. Okay.
I think what we have is a significant effort that's ongoing across the whole
country to reestablish the infrastructure for providing electrical power to the
people of the country. We have reestablished hundreds of kilometers of
transmission power lines in the country. We have moved and started the
reconstruction of generators. Some of you may have even seen this generator that
moved through Baghdad here in the last few days, moving at 10 kilometers an hour
because it's such a huge piece of equipment, trying to get additional generating
capacity for the country. Also, we embarked on a major maintenance program back
in the October time frame, maintenance that had not been conducted on those
generating plants for years.
That has taken us some time, and I think in the coming weeks we expect that some
of that generating capacity will be back online. We will also have completed the
400-kilowatt power lines around the city, the super ring as they call it, and
that will also begin to provide additional electrical power for the people of
Baghdad. And then within probably about another couple of months, we will have
completed the actual linking of the entire grid across the country. There are
literally well over a billion dollars that are being invested, and that will
come to fruition here within the coming months.
Q (Through interpreter.) Mr. General, you have not told where did you guys
arrest Mr. Ghul? Did you find him in a farm, or what kind of nature the arrest
that took place?
GEN. SANCHEZ: How -- where was Mr. Ghul found was -- we found him in farm? No,
sir. We caught him along the Iran-Iraq border, at crossing points.
Q (Through interpreter.) Mr. Rahim (sp) from Zamandu Alir (ph). You mentioned in
your speech that the security and stability, but the late days we found out
there's a lot of suicide bombings, the one next to the Jordanian embassy and
some other ones who they just found out about it. Is there a weakness in the
security of the coalition forces? (Pause.) A weakness in security of the
GEN. SANCHEZ: Would you translate that again, please.
INTERPRETER: Weakness of not having the full security, not having full control
for the security by the coalition forces.
GEN. SANCHEZ: Terrorism relies upon -- identifying and defeating a terrorist
relies upon the intelligence and our ability to be able to prevent him before he
strikes. And it's a very, very difficult problem. This takes cooperation of not
just coalition intelligence capabilities, but of the people of the country. And
I think we will get to a stage where we can, in fact, prevent the majority of
the terrorist attacks.
But it is a very, very difficult problem, as we all know. Anyone who has been
working counterterrorism for some time understands that the terrorist has the
ability to choose his time and place in which to conduct his attacks. And when
he has the ability to move freely in a population, that makes his operations
I don't think this reflects a lack of capability on the part of the coalition.
We have had tremendous success in both preventing and defeating some of the
terrorist attacks against the people of the country and also against the
coalition forces. And working together, we can achieve even greater success in
the coming months.
Yes, sir? In the back with the glasses.
Q (Through interpreter.) (Name and affiliation inaudible) -- FM Broadcasting.
The American forces claim that there are equipment and devices that are able to
discover the places for the terrorists and how good are their equipment are, and
what their actions for -- and lower the attacks against the coalition forces,
how active the equipment are?
GEN. SANCHEZ: It's equipment that can do what?
INTERPRETER: Discover where the terrorists are located at and what kind of
equipment they use and (are there ?) IEDs.
GEN. SANCHEZ: (Off mike.) Certainly I could give you a rundown of the types of
equipment that we're using to counter the different types of IEDs that are out
there. But I'll tell you that there is a capacity that is deployed in the
country, that helps us to defeat these kinds of attacks. We continue to build
our capacity in that area.
But ultimately, as I've stated before, the key to defeating these anti-coalition
forces and the people that are attacking us, both you and I, and my military
forces, is the human intelligence, because we know where the strangers are. We
know who these people are that are conducting these attacks, and we've got to
work hard to prevent it from occurring.
Q (Through interpreter.) General, is it true that United States forces -- their
losses has reached more than what they endured during Vietnam War, or the
transition of authority between -- is it the transition authority (sic) between
the Provisional Authority and current IGC, Iraqi Governing Council, that will
ensure the stability?
(Off-mike conferral among staff.)
GEN. SANCHEZ: (Off mike) -- KIAs, killed in action -- (off mike) -- country. And
we've had --
Q (Off mike.)
GEN. SANCHEZ: No. Well, the translator said "losses."
Okay. Can you all translate that again? Somebody up there?
INTERPRETER: Is it true our losses --
(Off-mike cross talk and conferral among staff.)
GEN. SANCHEZ: Can you restate your question, please?
Q (Through interpreter) General, the question was, there are reports that
American forces, their losses in Iraq war is more than what endured during the
Vietnam War and that's why the expediency in --
GEN. SANCHEZ: Okay, that's what was translated -- (off mike).
No, it's not true that the losses -- (off mike) -- incurred by the U.S. forces
in Vietnam, not even close. At this point, we have had a little bit over 500
casualties, killed in action, and we've had about 2,300 wounded in action, and
of those, it's a very low percentage that actually gets evacuated; most of them
-- well over 85, 95 percent of them get returned to duty.
That is not the reason why we're moving towards accelerated sovereignty; it's
that we need to go ahead and get the Iraqi people beginning to take on some of
that responsibility that rightfully belongs in their area.
Q (Through interpreter) From -- (inaudible) -- newspaper. You have mentioned the
Iraqi police and the new Iraqi army in providing the security here. Have you
also taken the subject or the issue of equipping the Iraqi police and the Iraqi
army in order to do its responsibilities? Thank you.
GEN. SANCHEZ: Yes, absolutely. We are working very hard to equip all of the
security forces appropriately. I think those of you here in Baghdad have begun
to see the Iraqi police cars that are out there; they've received their weapons.
We're in the process of fielding their communications equipment, their body
armor. And that's going to continue to increase and gain momentum over the
course of the next month or so.
In terms of the ICDC, we've got their equipment also that's been contracted, and
it will be deploying here within the next 30 to 45 days, and you'll began to see
that. And the same thing for the army. They are -- the army is equipped to
conduct dismounted operations at this point; they have some vehicles to provide
them the mobility, and that capability will increase now that the supplemental
is beginning to flow, and you'll begin to see the effects of that money.
Q Katherine Phelps (sp) from The Times. General, I wanted to ask you about a
report in an Iraqi newspaper this morning that coalition forces were moving to
close down an Islamic court that had been established in Najaf by -- (name
inaudible) -- Sadr (ph). Could you comment on that, please?
GEN. SANCHEZ: Well, if there are any courts that are operating outside of the
laws of Iraq, then, obviously, they're at risk of being shut down by the Iraqi
security forces. And if Iraqi security forces require the support of the
coalition, as we've stated repeatedly, that's the purpose for us being here, to
enable them to be able to maintain law and order. If that's established, that
there is an illegal court down there, then security forces will take the
Let's see here. Yes, sir?
Q (Through interpreter) Adnan (ph) from the Freedom TV. The CPA considers --
INTERPRETER: Could you repeat the question?
INTERPRETER: What he's saying that the CPA authority, they have used some of the
Kurdish parties that are against Turkey. Are they considered to be alliance, or
how are they going to be treated?
And I wish for him if he can repeat the question to be just sure about what he's
GEN. SANCHEZ: (Off mike.)
Q (Through interpreter) Yes, sir, Mr. Ambassador declare that the Kurdish
parties are against -- they are against the Turkish -- Turkish (part of that ?)
-- against Turkey. They are considered to be against -- they are (to be ?)
terrorist organizations, or whether there's certain parties which are al-Halbiah
(ph). How you guys are going to deal with them, as an alliance or as a
MR. : (Inaudible) -- does not understand the question -- (inaudible) --
GEN. SANCHEZ: (Off mike) -- Kurdish, you know, that are opposed to Turkey or
conducting operations against Turkey. And your question is how are we going to
deal with them, as allies or as terrorist organizations. Clearly -- yeah?
Q Mr. Paul Bremer said these organizations as terrorism organizations, so they
are -- (off mike) -- Turkey, not from Iraq, and -- (off mike) -- so how you will
work with them? Thank you.
GEN. SANCHEZ: They are clearly -- if any -- any organization that has been
declared a terrorist organization, we will treat as such. We will establish the
right operational constructs to be able to take down those terrorist forces or
organizations wherever it is that they're encountered, at the -- in their
operating areas in the right time. There are some -- KADEK, as we all know, is
operating in the northern part of the country. That is a terrorist -- a declared
terrorist organization, and its operations are not going to be condoned here in
Yes, sir, in the back?
Q Tomas Etzler, CNN. First of all, post-May 1st, Iraqi civilian casualties and
their compensation. I did some research, and it seems that under the rules and
in regulations of military engagement, that the composition for Iraqi civilians'
deaths are being routinely denied. There are cases of mistaken identity, cases
of wrong time, wrong place. How does it fit your hearts and minds attempt in
this country -- approach to this country?
GEN. SANCHEZ: Well, I think I'm not sure where you're getting your statistics
from, but we've had 15,000 -- over 15,000 -- claims that have been made. We have
settled over 11,000. We have paid out well in excess of $2.2 million. And as we
stated since early last summer, we have been working very hard that whenever
there is an issue of this nature we will look into it and we will do what's
right for the people. And we continue to do that. Okay?
Yes, sir, in the back?
Q First one is have you found out any kind of evidence of cooperation between
the former regime and al Qaeda in this country?
Second -- (inaudible) -- the news about the intention of the CPA to reopen the
Iraqi Ministry of Defense. Do you have some information about that, please?
GEN. SANCHEZ: I'm sorry. What was the second part? The minister of Defense and
Q Intention of CPA to reopen the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. Thank you.
GEN. SANCHEZ: Yeah. Mm-hmm. Okay, sorry.
I think what is important for us to look at -- I have not been in the business
of going back to recreate what may have existed before the JTF took over
responsibilities here in the country. What I'll be able to tell you in response
to your first question is what I've been saying repeatedly is that those
tactics, techniques and procedures of al Qaeda are present.
We now with the Hassan Ghul arrest, we know that there are some couriers at
least that were present -- are present -- here in the country. And we know, or
we believe, that there is some fundamentalist terrorist linkage with the former
regime at the tactical level. And we believe that there are some efforts to
strengthen those linkages. And that's where I'll leave that at that point. Okay?
I'm sorry, your second question was -- tried to -- about -- directed -- STAFF:
The minister of Defense.
GEN. SANCHEZ: Yeah. The minister of Defense is, in fact, being -- the Ministry
of Defense is, in fact, working to be stood up in the country. That is being
worked by CPA. And there will be -- we are in the process of identifying some of
the initial members that will work in that ministry. And there is some training
going on to ensure that the individuals that are appointed to that ministry are
in fact capable of accomplishing their tasks. And we are in fact looking to
establish that ministry before the 1st of July and probably a little bit earlier
Q (Through interpreter.) Zena Basadi (sp), (affiliation inaudible). Mr. General,
we are at the beginning of establishing the Iraqi army. Are we going to form the
air force, the medical and the Iraqi intelligence? Is it possible? Is it
possible to be formed again?
GEN. SANCHEZ: As far as -- what we're forming is the Iraqi armed forces. There
is -- there has been a main focus on the army, because that's where the majority
of the effort is going, to produce capacity.
As you know, the Civil Defense Corps has also been working. We've been working
very, very hard to stand that up, and that will become a reserve component of
the Iraqi armed forces and the army.
There is a small air component, air force component, that is going to be stood
up in the timelines that we've laid out for the country. There's also a coastal
defense capability that is being stood up, a naval component, if you will, that
is also in the plan. And it is part of our effort, at this point in time, to be
able to train and equip and field those forces. And the intelligence structures
are also at some point going to be integrated into those forces.
In terms of the medical, that's already in process. We have medical capability
for the army that is out at Taji, with the battalion that was fielded there. And
that is operating out of Taji. So that is already in the process of standing
itself up, along with the rest of the armed forces.
Yes, sir? In the back.
Q In Arabic, please. (Through interpreter.) Mr. General, I have two questions.
One, to supply the traffic police with right equipment, plus that -- some
authority, so our traffic police wouldn't have to shoot to solve a problem.
The second question is, why not the Mujahideen-e-khalq Organization be expelled
from Iraq, knowing that the United Nations -- they said that this organization
is a terrorist organization.
GEN. SANCHEZ: If I could get you to clarify that, are you talking about the
Mujahideen-e-khalq? You said the Mujahideen? Could you clarify that a little
further for me?
Q (Through interpreter.) Yes, yes, Mr. General. The Mujahideen-e-khalq
GEN. SANCHEZ: Yeah. Okay.
First of all, on the supplying of the traffic police, we are working to ensure
that the Ministry of Interior and that the police have all of the capabilities
and the equipment that is necessary and that is -- that we all expect for the
police to have, so that you can respond gradually to incidents without going
immediately to the use of deadly force or having to shoot to take care of a
problem. Especially in the areas of demonstrations, having what we call
non-lethal munitions and capabilities is exactly the right answer for those
kinds of situations. And we're going to work to ensure that they have the right
training and equipment to be able to respond accordingly.
In terms of the MEK, we are working at this point in time -- they are under the
custody of the United States. And we continue to work to get to an end state and
determine what their disposition will be over the next few months.
Q (Through interpreter) You mentioned that who does the terrorist act are
foreigners. Is there a plan to protect the Iraqi borders? This is the first
question. The second question, although the coalition forces are spread so much,
the terrorist acts are continuing. You said that you will provide security for
the Iraqi people. Do you consider the Iraqi forces will provide the security,
although they have small numbers?
GEN. SANCHEZ: The first question is what is the plan to protect the borders. We
have been building Iraqi security forces across the whole spectrum, with the
border police being one of those elements that we've been building for some
time. We do have pretty good control of the borders up in the north. We have
just about all of the major border crossing points that are manned by border
What we do not have at this point is the border patrols and the capacity to
conduct border patrols across the entire length of the border. But we're working
to build that; we're working to provide them the equipment, both in terms of
transportation and communications, to be able to conduct those patrols to
In the meantime, the coalition is in fact conducting border control and
surveillance operations to prevent the illegal infiltration of forces from both
the Iranian and the Syrian side. And we believe that we are having an effect on
that. What we do have to continue to improve on is the ability of the Iraqi
border police forces to be able to detect false passports and illegal documents
to prevent people from entering, and being able to control that infiltration.
And we continue to work to improve that capacity.
In terms of the size of the Iraqi security forces, clearly today they're still
too small to be able to assume responsibility for all of the security sectors in
the country, but that capacity continues to build every day. You heard my
comments that we have 3,400 ICDC in training today across the country, and we're
building to 36 battalions of about 32,000 that will be in place by the April
time frame. The Army continues to work on a timetable that is going to get it to
27 battalions, about 40,000, by the September time frame.
So we'll continue to build that capacity so that the Iraqi people will have what
is necessary to provide their internal security. And then for external security,
there will be some decisions that have to be made by the Iraqi people on how to
Okay? Yes, sir, in the back?
Q Mike Aldridge of BBC. The debate is on, of course, about whether there could
and should be direct elections before the transfer of sovereignty at the end of
June. As you look at it from the security point of view, do yo think that the
coalition and Iraqi security forces could provide adequate security for such a
direct general election by that time if a decision were taken to hold one?
GEN. SANCHEZ: Well, what we are preparing for is to provide security for
whatever the political method is that is used to get towards that transitional
assembly. Yes, I think we will be able to provide the security that is necessary
across the country. If you're asking is it absolute security, of course not. But
we will be able to provide security, and it will be targeted, and we will be
working with the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Iraqi people to
concentrate forces where they're necessary to be able to protect the process.
And I think we can accomplish that mission.
Q Anne Garrels --
Q (Through interpreter.) Al-howza (ph) newspaper. There were reports about the
arrest of Izzat al-Douri. How accurate are they?
GEN. SANCHEZ: You didn't see me up here. (Laughs.) You'll see me up here when we
catch him. Okay?
Q To follow up on Mike's question, have you been in discussions with U.N.
officials now on se1curity for their return in order to begin the discussions on
what the process will be?
GEN. SANCHEZ: We are assisting and we will assist the U.N. in whatever it is
they need to make their decisions about reintroduction of their capacities back
into the country. And we will continue to support them in whatever manner we
Q What kind of time frame, how long are these discussions going to go on before
they go back?
GEN. SANCHEZ: Ma'am, I don't have any idea at this point. I couldn't tell you
that. That would be a question that CPA could probably answer better for you.
Q (Through interpreter.) (Name and affiliation inaudible) What's your
explanation -- provisional authority and showing increased number of their
military individuals in the middle of the streets and with the current --
The second question: what's the relation between the bombings or the IEDs and
the return of the U.N. mission?
GEN. SANCHEZ: Okay, you'll have to translate the first question again.
Q (Through interpreter.) The first question: can you explain why we have so many
coalition soldiers --
INTERPRETER: What he's saying, sir, that if you guys are providing the security
for everybody, how come you're not able to provide security for the Iraqi
employee who's working inside the CPA? Because you guys are leaving them out in
GEN. SANCHEZ: (To staff) (Off mike.) I need your help up there because what I'm
getting down here is that the American translation of the question -- or
correction, the translations are not -- (inaudible).
STAFF: Okay, go ahead and ask the question again.
Q (Through interpreter.) What's your explanation -- (inaudible) -- the coalition
forces to make the Iraqi workers who works in the CPA they -- (inaudible) --
exposing them to the terrorists without any coverage on the security, at the
same time making the American soldiers -- giving them complete protection for
the U.S. forces. And through too many months you guys not giving the proper
protection for the Iraqi workers when they come in through the palace.
What's the relationship between all the explosion that's increased in the later
days and between coming the United Nations representative?
GEN. SANCHEZ: First of all, on the protection that is provided to the Iraqis
that are coming into the green zone, I think it's important for us to understand
that this car bomb that exploded at gate number one last week, the Iraqis that
were in line to get into the gate were protected at the same level as my
soldiers were, and those people survived for the most part the explosion. It was
only 50 feet away from those barriers, and most of the people behind those walls
survived. And I can't tell you if there any really that were in behind the wall
that were killed, but I know that my soldiers were back there conducting their
normal checks of the Iraqis coming through, and we had only three soldiers with
minor wounds in that incident. So in terms of protecting people as they come in,
that's being done. What we can't protect is an incident of the nature that
occurred, where a bomb blows up right in the middle of the street and it's a
major thoroughfare. There's no way you can protect against that.
In terms of a linkage between the IEDs and the return of the U.N. mission, there
is no relationship at this point. We're not seeing an increase. We're at a
steady state in the number of IEDs, and I don't believe that there is a linkage
that we can establish at this point that I would be willing to stand up here and
attribute that to the U.N. mission coming in.
Okay. Yes, sir? Yes, sir? Yes, sir, you? Mm-hmm.
Q (Through interpreter) From the Middle East, Egyptian -- have you made some
negotiations with the Iraqis regarding the withdrawal of the American troops?
And if there are any negotiations, when will they take place? Thank you.
GEN. SANCHEZ: Sir, no. At this point, those negotiations have not started, and
our expectation is that within the next two to three months those security
agreements will be resolved with the Iraqi people.
Q (Through interpreter) Ibrahim Hassan (sp) from Sensuferene (ph) newspaper.
General, you mentioned before that many party members, Ba'ath Party members
denounced, especially in Mosul. Do you think that if you contain these people
and take them to help you will be better than being -- than just being there and
they can be used by other terrorist groups to do what they need, the bad acts?
GEN. SANCHEZ: The question, as I understood it, was whether these denunciations
allow us an opportunity to get those individuals to cooperate with us versus
being available as manpower for the insurgency or those that are conducting
attacks against us.
Clearly, that is the idea, that we get those Iraqis that were former Ba'ath
party members to buy in to the future of the country. It's not about cooperating
and working with the coalition, it's about becoming a contributor to the future
of their own country and working with the rest of the Iraqi people to bring
stability and security and democracy and prosperity to Iraq. It's not about the
coalition at all, it's about the people themselves and bringing a stable future
for their children.
Q Joseph Logan, Reuters. General, I wanted to ask you, is it still the position
of the U.S. military that people posing as journalists fired on U.S. forces near
Fallujah in early January? And also, what is the state of the investigation into
the mistreatment of Reuters staff who were detained in connection with that?
GEN. SANCHEZ: First of all, your statement that is it the position of the U.S.
military, those were the initial reports that were made by the soldiers on the
ground, and that's why we launched an investigation. It was never stated as a
position by the U.S. military. That's why we launched the investigation. And
that investigation is ongoing, and we expect that to be completed here within
the next -- within the week. Okay?
Q And how about the second investigation as to the mistreatment of the people
who were detained?
GEN. SANCHEZ: Yeah, that's the one that I'm referring to, the one that happened
out in the 82nd. The previous one, that involved the death of the reporter, that
Freedom of Information Act request has been acted on at our level and it is at
the CENTCOM level for decision to release, and that will be released at the
right time by Central Command.
GEN. SANCHEZ: But the investigation on the Kiowa incident, that one is right on
the verge of being completed.
Q (Through interpreter) (Name inaudible) -- from the German Broadcast. Who will
supply the protection and the security for the U.N. team or the U.N.? Will the
protection be supplied by some American forces or Iraqi forces or what? Thank
GEN. SANCHEZ: The question is, who will supply the protection or security for
the United Nations? That's a decision that they would have to make, and you'd
have to ask a U.N. representative as to what their plans are. At this point, I
have nothing that I could tell you to answer that question, ma'am.
Q (Through interpreter.) Kazam al Zakari (sp) from -- (inaudible) -- Iraq
newspaper. There are some courses made for the Iraqi police in the neighboring
countries, where -- there is also another area, in Kurdistan. Where can we make
use of that?
Second question: Regarding -- Saddam Hussein used to contain and welcome all
terrorist elements. Have you managed to pursue some of those terrorists that
were contained by the previous regime before? Thank you.
GEN. SANCHEZ: First of all, on the use of Kurdistan facilities for training, we
do in fact have some training facilities up in the north that we're using to
continue to train policemen. We have some training academies up there that are
training the ICDC, and we'll continue to use those over time. And there's a --
as a matter of fact, in the north is the first location, in the Tall Afar area,
where we're going to put the first brigade of the new Iraqi army. So we are
continuing to use some of the northern facilities.
In terms of Saddam Hussein and previous regime elements that may still be
operating out there, absolutely -- we are continuing to pursue them. We'll
continue to pursue them relentlessly until it is that they have laid down their
arms or they've been defeated.
Q (Through interpreter.) Osamara (sp) from the (Steward ?) newspaper. There are
-- there is a great number of Iraqi army that were put in prison, and their
families do not know whether they be sentenced to court, or they will mention
where are they prisoned. Thank you.
GEN. SANCHEZ: Okay. In terms of -- I think the question is a broader question, I
believe, on detainee locations and charges. If there is a former Iraqi army
member in prison, he's a prisoner of war at this point and will continue to be
so until we have declared an end to hostilities.
x x x hostilities.
In terms of locations, we've been working very hard to get the detainee lists
out through the Red Cross and through the civil affairs and police elements
across the country. And those lists are, in fact, available to identify any
prisoner that may be out there in the custody of the coalition.
Q (Through interpreter.) From Al-Abwa (ph) newspaper. You have talked about the
border police. But some agencies mentioned that there are 20 people that were
detained and were taken to other, different or far areas. The second question,
regarding the plan of security, do you think there will be a time limit to solve
this problem, or you will just continue doing your efforts? Thank you.
GEN. SANCHEZ: Okay. Let me restate the question and see if it's right. You say
that there were 20 people that were detained that were taken to some other areas
by the border police -- is that your question? -- and want to know where they
INTERPRETER: Sorry. (It's not ?) the question.
Q (Through interpreter.) Twenty Iranian visitors were detained at the Iranian
border. Is that true? They were either detained or kidnapped. And the second
question is regarding the security in Iraq. When will it be fulfilled? Thank
GEN. SANCHEZ: Okay. I'm sorry. That there were 20 Iranians that were detained,
and where were they taken to.
Almost on a daily basis, we are detaining and turning around Iranian immigrants
or travelers that are coming into the country. The 20 that you're talking about,
I couldn't give you any clarity on those 20 unless you gave me some additional
information on who they may be and when and where they were coming through. But
I do know that it's in the hundreds almost every day that we detain them because
they don't have proper paperwork, and they get turned around and sent back to
In terms of the time limit to solve the security situation here in the country,
clearly I think we all want this to be solved as soon as we possibly can. That's
what the people expect. That's what we desire. And that's what we're working
very hard to do. But it requires a commitment of the same level and with the
same intensity as the coalition has. We have no desire to be here conducting
this low- intensity conflict. We want that to stop.
And I know the Iraqi people want it to stop just as bad as we do. So it's going
to take our cooperation and working together to bring an end to that violence,
and I ask all of the Iraqis in the country to contribute to that effort. It's
time to do that.
Okay, one last question. Yes, sir?
Q (Through interpreter) Abdullah Tiffel Omar (ph) from Kuwait TV. Did you manage
to differentiate between the -- second question, were some detainees --
(inaudible) -- and arrest at Guatemala (sic)?
MR. : Guantanamo.
INTERPRETER: And the first question is that -- could you repeat it, please,
because it was very fast? Okay.
MR. : Could you repeat the question, please? And be a little slower because --
Q (Through interpreter) Could you differentiate between the sites that were
targeted by those who are the former regime elements and the sites that were
targeted by those -- the terrorists? And the second question is that have you
sent some of the detainees to be detained in Guatemala (sic)? Thank you.
MR. : Guantanamo.
INTERPRETER: Guantanamo, sorry.
GEN. SANCHEZ: Okay. In terms of Kuwaiti -- or correction, in terms of
differentiating between the targets that were engaged by former regime and by
terrorists, we believe we have a pretty good idea where some of the terrorists
have been operating. And we think that we're getting a better and better feel
for where and how they're conducting their operations here in the country, and
we think we can eventually get to the point where it will be very easy for us to
do that. At this point, because we're still aggressively pursuing these elements
-- both terrorist and former regime elements -- it probably wouldn't be
appropriate for me to walk you through a list of those targets.
In terms of the detainees and where they're being held, obviously that also is
something that, at this point in time, I would rather not discuss. We are in
fact detaining individuals according to the authorities that we are provided by
the Geneva Convention, and we will continue to do so regardless of location.
Okay. Thank you all very much.