COALITION PROVISIONAL AUTHORITY BRIEFING WITH
BRIGADIER GENERAL MARK KIMMITT,
DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR COALITION OPERATIONS;
AND DAN SENOR, SENIOR ADVISER, CPA
LOCATION: BAGHDAD, IRAQ
DATE: SATURDAY, APRIL 17, 2004
MR. SENOR: Good afternoon. I just have a quick announcement and then I'm
going to run through a few issues related to Fallujah. And General Kimmitt has
an opening statement, and then we'll be happy to take your questions.
On the administrative front, following this briefing there will be a backgrounder on the Baghdad mayoral selection process. Immediately following this briefing in this room. I think that's right.
(To staff.) Is it in this room, or is it in the press center?
MR. SENOR: Oh, it's -- sorry?
STAFF: (Off mike) -- told me in the International --
MR. SENOR: In the International Press Center immediately following this briefing will be a backgrounder on the Baghdad mayoral selection process.
I just thought I'd open today by giving you a quick state of play with regard to discussions that are going on right now in Fallujah. As many of you know, there is a delegation in Fallujah that represents the Governing Council and the coalition. The Governing Council side of the delegation is led by Governing Council member -- Governing Council representative Dr. Hajem and representatives of Sheik Ghazi and Dr. Pachachi. That delegation has been traveling to and from Fallujah over the past six or seven days for meetings there.
Just yesterday, we added coalition leadership to the delegation. Ambassador Richard Jones, who's Ambassador Bremer's deputy, has been personally engaged in Fallujah beginning yesterday as a demonstration of our seriousness in trying to bring the situation in Fallujah to a peaceful resolution.
The Fallujan delegation includes professionals -- local professionals -- doctors, lawyers. It also includes local political leaders. Our delegation is also planning within the next 24 hours to meet with the -- with members of the provincial council.
Based on what Fallujan leaders are saying, we are hopeful. We are hopeful about their intentions, but our overriding question is can they deliver, and if so can they do so expeditiously? Time is running out.
There are two groups of people in Fallujah that we are focused on. The first, obviously, are the foreign terrorists, the Mukhabarat and the Fedayeen Saddam that have been operating out of Fallujah. We will not negotiate with this group. The second group we are hoping to appeal to are the Fallujan people. We believe the overwhelming majority of Fallujans want to remove the burden of foreign terrorists, Mukhabarats and Fedayeen Saddam. We can either remove this burden with military force or with the cooperation of the Fallujan people. The latter would minimize bloodshed and is obviously our priority.
The Fallujan people can play an important role in pressuring the bad actors, the terrorists, the Mukhabarats, the Fedayeen Saddam, and the Fallujan people can provide us with the intelligence we need. In reaching out to Fallujans, we will also continue to show good faith on the humanitarian side, with a number of efforts we are making. We are also in discussions through other tracks, including tribal leaders.
So that is a quick state of play on Fallujah. General Kimmitt has an openings statement, and then we'll be happy to take your questions.
GEN. KIMMITT: Thanks, Dan.
In the past 24 hours, all commands in CJTF-7 are conducting offensive operations in support of ongoing operations. Attacks against Iraqi civilians, Iraqi security forces and coalition forces remain at about two times recent norms.
It remains relatively calm in the northern zone of operations. Iraqi security forces are visible throughout Mosul and are manning critical sites.
In Mosul last night, eight coalition soldiers and two civilians were wounded in a mortar attack on coalition facilities. Nine of the 10 wounded have returned to duty, and one remains in the hospital in stable condition.
Coalition forces, in coordination with USAID's Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster and Civic Aid program won approval for a $402,000 water project that will benefit almost 300,000 people.
Near Tall Afar, coalition forces conducted an offensive operation last night, targeting and detaining a suspected weapons dealer and two of his associates. In Hammam al Alil, Qaiyara, Erbil and Dohuk, the situation remains stable.
In the north central zone, there has been a decrease in enemy activity over the past 24 hours, with only nine attacks throughout the zone. This lull in activity may be correlated to the number of enemy casualties during last week's engagements. Near Tikrit, in Samarra, there were two attacks against coalition forces, one an anti-tank mine, the other small-arms fire combined with an IED.
Near Baqubah there were three attacks against coalition forces. A convoy was attacked twice, and a patrol was attacked with an IED.
Near Kirkuk coalition forces were attacked once by small-arms fire. And additionally, Iraqi police reported that an Iraqi police service officer's house was bombed, and a bomb was found at a second officer's house. There were no casualties at either home.
Near Tuz, coalition forces received informing leading to the capture of one individual at a water tower, that water tower being used as a rocket firing position.
Within the Baghdad zone, there have been a significant drop in attacks, both in numbers and intensity. Recent activity appears to be more harassing in nature than the coordinated attacks mounted by Sadr's militia against the Iraqi governmental institutions last week. In Baghdad, it is assessed that Sadr's militia has begun to fracture, as Sadr did not receive the popular support he sought. It is also assessed that the majority of the population remains neutral with respect to the increased violence, and most are eager for a cessation of hostilities.
In the west, the overall situation in and around Fallujah remains unchanged. Provocative attacks against the MEF in Fallujah expected to continue, despite the observance of a unilateral suspension of offensive operations. Anti-coalition forces in Fallujah continue to use local mosques for weapons storage, are building roadblocks in the city and continue preparations for renewed fighting. Current reporting indicates that the fighters have taken over many homes, forcing out residents, while other residents remain barricaded in their homes.
A number of cities outside Fallujah still harbor some remnants of anti-coalition forces and will remain a focus of MEF operations.
In the northern Babil province, there has been a decrease in attacks against convoys over the past 24 hours, although there's reason to believe that they still intend to damage or destroy more road infrastructure. In Ar Ramadi, the situation is under control with only one reported attack in the last 24 hours.
Multinational Division Central South remains stable, and attacks in Karbala have decreased. The Iraqi police station in al Tunis north of Al Hillah was attacked with small-arms fire by anti-coalition fighters yesterday. There were no reported injuries, and one individual was captured.
Coalition forces continue combat operations in al Kut to defeat Sadr's militia. The militia no longer controls any government buildings, bridges or Iraqi police station, and al Kut is considered secure.
Outside An Najaf, coalition forces continue to operate in the local area to destroy anti-coalition forces and conduct engagements with legitimate Iraqi civil and security forces from An Najaf and Al Kufa.
On the east side of the Euphrates River last night, anti- coalition forces attacked a coalition patrol with small-arms fire. The engagement resulted in two enemy forces killed and one coalition soldier wounded. The wounded soldier was evacuated to medical facilities where he later died of wounds.
In the Multinational Division Southeast Zone, the past 24 hours saw minimal enemy activity with only one unsuccessful rocket attack in al-Amarah last night.
MR. SENOR: And with that, we'll be happy to take your questions.
Q (Through interpreter.) (Affiliation inaudible.) Two questions; one for Mr. Senor and the second for General Kimmitt.
Mr. Senor, you have emphasized that you will hand over authority on the 30th of June. If the authority will reside in the hands of the coalition, why doesn't the matter of al Sadr be handed over to the Iraqis now? And if this council, the Governing Council, if it does not enjoy the trust -- (break in English translation.) You have said that there are members who are taking refuge -- you said that there are members who are taking refuge with innocent people. So if this situation continues, what will be your answer to this situation?
MR. SENOR: General Kimmitt got sick and he had to step out a few minutes. He'll try to return here momentarily.
The plan is to hand sovereignty over on June 30th. That has been our plan since November. And we have said that as we get closer and closer to June 30th, we expect there to be violence, more violence, unfortunately, because the bad actors, whether they are foreign fighters; international terrorists, people like Zarqawi and other al Qaeda affiliates; whether they are the remnants of Mukhabarat and Fedayeen Saddam, they all have a vested interest for one reason or another in derailing this process. And they would use violence as a tool to prevent us from handing over sovereignty because without sovereignty they continue -- at least they believe in their own words, at least in Zarqawi's words -- to have a pretext to foment anger, to incite violence, to engage in organized attacks against the coalition. That will be that much more difficult for them after June 30th. And so it would hand over a major victory to these individuals and to these organizations if we did not hand over sovereignty when we said we would.
As far as the Sadr situation is concerned and any others, we will still be able to address situations of that nature after June 30th much like we are able to address it now because the fact is, after June 30th, while political sovereignty will be handed over to the Iraqis, there will still be some 200,000 -- I'm sorry, some 130 (thousand), 140,000 coalition security forces here, security forces from various coalition countries, primarily from the United States, that will be here to play a supportive role to the Iraqi security services. So we will not allow this country to head down a path towards destabilization.
We think it's important now to address this problem. We think it's important now, before June 30th, to use this opportunity to clean out the poison that may still exist in Iraq's body politic after 35 years of totalitarian rule. If we can address it now we should, but Iraqis should be reassured that after June 30th we will still be in a position to stabilize this country.
Q Sewell Chan with The Washington Post. Dan, my question -- I was going to direct it towards General Kimmitt, so are you taking questions for both of you, or --
MR. SENOR: I am not taking questions for both of us. Hopefully he'll return. If I can answer it, I'll try. Otherwise, I'll wait till he gets back.
Q I'll try anyway. The military announced this morning that sections of two major highways, Highways 1 and 8 going north and south from Baghdad, would be indefinitely closed. Could you explain to us what the impact will be? And how are you going to respond to the restrictions on freedom of movement in the country in terms of commercial traffic with the Jordanian highway already being closed? What will be the impact? And how is your body, the CPA, going to get this message across about the need -- about why these highways were closed and when they'll be reopened?
MR. SENOR: I will let General Kimmitt address the -- the sort of the next steps and what measures will be taken to address any inconveniences or consequences created by the closure.
I will say, broadly speaking, we do intend to communicate to the Iraqi people that these roads are being closed because of attacks on Iraq. They are attacks by -- whether they are foreign fighters, whether they are illegal militias and mobs, whether they are Muqhabarat and Fedayeen Saddam and other remnants of the former regime, groups and organizations and individuals that do not want to see this country move forward -- that is effectively what they're doing; these are attacks against the Iraqi people. These are attacks against the new and free Iraq. And we, obviously, have to take measures to protect against those attacks, which are some of the road closures that you're seeing.
We are launching an effort immediately to communicate this through all the major newspapers in Iraq, to get the word out. We'll be taking a number of other steps through television to communicate, so Iraqis are aware of any new restrictions that may exist with regard to those specific roads.
Q (Off mike) -- situation in Najaf. Sheik Qais al-Khazaali, Sadr's spokesman, just said that the mediators have told him that the U.S.-led coalition is putting obstacles in the face of reaching some sort of a compromise there and that all mediation has stopped and the U.S. troops are poised to attack Najaf. Is that true?
MR. SENOR: My response to that is the discussions that I'm familiar with are discussions initiated by individuals and organizations that have approached us saying they want to see a peaceful resolution in Najaf. We too want to see a peaceful resolution in Najaf; we too want to minimize bloodshed in Najaf. And in so doing, we will communicate to anybody who wants to listen, or to anyone who wants to pass on a message, what our basic principles are, which I've articulated from this podium before. We want the rule of law to prevail in Iraq. There is no room for illegal militias and mob violence, and there is no room for individuals or organizations to just single-handedly and unilaterally decide that they're going to take over government buildings and government properties. Those are our principles. We've communicated them. If individuals or groups that we meet with want to pass that on to others, that is their prerogative. But there is no direct track here that may have broken down because of actions we've taken.
Q I had a second question, sir.
MR. SENOR: Yeah.
Q On Fallujah, we had also someone who's involved in the talks there saying that any security force that would go back into Fallujah has to be from inside Fallujah or people of Fallujah. And there has been talk that Iraqi police has already or will be on the streets of Fallujah soon. Could you shed some light on that?
GEN. KIMMITT: Well, we have certainly hoped that we get legitimate Iraqi security forces back into Fallujah. I'm not sure that anybody's dictating terms and conducting their own vetting process. When somebody joins the Iraqi army, they serve the entire nation. When they join the entire -- when they join the Iraqi police service, they serve the entire nation.
I think what you're suggesting is some perhaps are trying to set up a separate militia-type police force that doesn't answer to the central government but answers to the people of Fallujah. And that's just inconsistent with the values of what we're promoting for this country.
We're not in a position at this point to suggest either accept or not accept. Remember, these are discussions. These are not negotiations. I suspect the people that are making these demands may want to talk to the people that they're discussing this with, to see what they feel about it.
MR. SENOR: Yes?
Q Tom Ricks from The Washington Post. A question for General Kimmitt. Is the U.S. moving additional forces to the Fallujah area? And have the Marines there requested reinforcement?
GEN. KIMMITT: I'm not aware of any additional forces being moved in the Fallujah area at this time. If the commander on the ground needs additional forces, there are plenty of forces in the area of operations to support him with.
Q But has the commander asked for additional forces --
GEN. KIMMITT: I'm not aware of any requests on the part of General Conway for additional forces.
MR. SENOR: Yes?
Q (Through interpreter.) Hamza Hashem (sp), Farat (sp) newspaper. We heard that there has been an army from Iraq and Iraqi forces has been sieged by your people because they have refused to fight against the Iraqi people. Is this democracy? Is that the democracy that you are talking about?
GEN. KIMMITT: First of all, I wouldn't use the word "democracy." The first question we -- I'd use is, is it the truth? And the answer is no, this is not the truth. So there's no need for further discussion. Any allegations that we somehow are arresting members of the Iraqi armed forces is just not correct.
MR. SENOR: Yes?
Q (Through interpreter.) Mr. Dan Senor, you've talked about a delegation from the IGC, that they are negotiating with -- and Ambassador Jones also, with the people of Fallujah or the leaders of Fallujah. Do the Coalition Authority (sic) have got any conditions or -- so that they can impose on the people of Fallujah?
MR. SENOR: We aren't getting into specifics about conditions in public. There are discussions going on. We hope they can lead to a peaceful resolution, one that minimizes bloodshed. Obviously, a priority for us in these discussions is removing from the area any international terrorists and foreign fighters that are using it as a staging ground for operations and any former Mukhabarat, Fedayeen Saddam who are operating out of Fallujah. If we are going to stabilize Fallujah, those individuals must depart, and in most cases they must be turned over to us.
Q (Through interpreter.) Thank you. Najim al-Rubaie from Distor. Mr. Dan, you have mentioned a while ago that we want to see a peaceful solution in Najaf. What is the form of this peaceful solution in Najaf? Do you have the capability of having a dialogue with the leadership in Najaf? How are you going to deal with the announcement that has been made by Ayatollah al-Sistani and the red line that he mentioned? And if the militias of Jaish and Mahdi have been disarmed, so does that solve the problem or the crisis?
GEN. KIMMITT: (Off mike) -- continue to get wrapped around a point that is (not moot ?). Najaf is not the target. Muqtada al-Sadr remains the target. He can turn himself in on the basis of a legitimate Iraqi warrant for his arrest to an Iraqi policeman, where he can seek Iraqi justice. There is no conditionality to that. There is no aspect of that that either requires or necessitates violence. He has it within his hands to prevent the violence.
MR. SENOR: Yes? Back there. You.
Q Patrick McDonnell with the LA Times. How are you doing?
MR. SENOR: Good.
Q Forgive me, I came in a little bit late, so I may have missed something, but was Ambassador Bremer meeting with the mayor of Fallujah today in the Fallujah area? Is that true?
MR. SENOR: No. No.
Q That is not true.
MR. SENOR: That is not true. There is a delegation -- joint Governing Council/coalition delegation that is in Fallujah engaged in discussions with the Fallujan delegation, and one of the leaders of our delegation is Ambassador Richard Jones, who is Ambassador Bremer's deputy.
Q Just one follow-up question to Fallujah and the kind of vehemence of the reaction we've seen there lately. Do you feel that this was something that had been bottled up in Fallujah for some time, this kind of pro-insurgency sentiment that we see, and just kind of came out spontaneously now, or was it new influx of foreign fighters and others that kind of stirred it up?
GEN. KIMMITT: It's actually probably the latter.
Q Oh, so you feel it was more the latter than something that had been stewing and had been contained for some time by the 82nd Airborne?
GEN. KIMMITT: Well, you're suggesting that -- again that this is a popular uprising in the town of Fallujah. Empirically it is not. The vast majority of people in Fallujah we still believe feel they are being held hostage by a small number of terrorists, foreign fighters, former Mukhabarat, former Fedayeen Saddam. We don't believe that they represent the overall mood in the town of Fallujah.
MR. SENOR: Yes.
Q It's Anne Bernard from the Boston Globe. I wanted to ask another question about the highway closures, and maybe General Kimmitt can elaborate a bit. I'm still a bit confused about the announcement that went out. In saying that major routes north, south, and I think east of Baghdad were going to be closed indefinitely, is that really for repairs as the announcement suggested, or is it because of increased attacks on those areas? And if the announcement has not already been made to Iraqis, isn't there a danger -- this notice says that civilians will be fired on if they drive on these roads. Did the closure of the roads actually happen this morning? Did the fire-on- sight policy actually take effect this morning? Thanks.
GEN. KIMMITT: Yeah. First of all, the closure did take effect this morning. The civilians will be directed to alternate routes of travel, so it's not as if they can haphazardly come onto those routes. We've got to fix those roads, and we've also got to protect those roads.
MR. SENOR: Yes. Go ahead.
Q (Through interpreter.) Al Hurra TV. Question to Kimmitt. What after the battle of Fallujah? What after the battle of Fallujah? What will the situation be?
And the question to Senor, there are talks in the streets that you are violating or not agreeing upon some of the discussions taking place among some of the tribal leaders in Fallujah. What do you say about that?
GEN. KIMMITT: After Fallujah, we hope to get -- after the Fallujah operation is complete, we hope to get on with the process of turning Fallujah into a model for what Iraq will look like, and I think we've been very clear what that looks like.
MR. SENOR: Okay. Carol, last question.
Q I wanted to ask about the convoy campaign and find out if you can confirm that --
(NOTE: There is a brief pause due to a disruption in the briefing room.)
MR. SENOR: Carol.
Q Dan, I was asking about the convoy campaign. Are you aware of the start date of when the convoys began being attacked? And -- I don't know if you're able to do this -- can you confirm that 87 trucks were hit yesterday?
And then, from the coalition side, can you speak to the green zone and whether or not there's been some shortages at the PX and whether some people are now ready meals -- MREs?
MR. SENOR: I will have someone get back to you from the CPIC on the issue of the convoys.
On the PX shortages and ready meals, to my knowledge there has been no launch in ready meals. That may change in the days ahead, but up to this point, there's not been any instituting of MREs. I miss them. It will have been a year.
Q Have you been to the PX lately?
MR. SENOR: I have not.
Q Ben Shadulski (ph) from the Chicago Tribune. Pardon me if this was asked earlier, but I was held up in traffic. Do you have anything to add on the American soldier who's being held?
MR. SENOR: Again, I'll leave that to the CPIC to answer right after.
Q (Name inaudible) -- Portuguese Radio. The Portuguese government announced yesterday that if the situation continues worsening, it will consider seriously withdrawing its police force from Nasiriyah. Could you comment, please?
MR. SENOR: I'm sorry, the last part?
Q They would consider withdrawing the Portuguese police force staying in Nasiriyah.
MR. SENOR: Yeah, I will leave it to the White House and to the U.S. State Department to comment on any discussions with our coalition partners or other countries making contributions.
At a broad level, I would say this is a very international effort. We've got over 30 countries whose governments have made contributions on the military side; we've got some 17 countries that have made contributions on the civilian side. When I go to work every day, I work with colleagues from a number of different countries from around the world. It is a very international effort. While obviously we appreciate the contributions of every single country, we recognize that it is very broad, it is very international, we have a lot of participants, and we think we can shoulder the burden appropriately.
Yes? Can you use a microphone?
Q Yeah, from the Sunday Telegraph. I know you just said you'd refer questions about the soldier hostage to CPIC. Does that also apply to the issue that they offered to trade him in return for prisoners being held by coalition forces, or can you comment on that?
MR. SENOR: Well, I can tell you that we've made it clear that we will not negotiate with terrorists, we will not negotiate with hostage-takers. We are, obviously, concerned any time there is a hostage taken, especially a United States -- member of the United States military. And as we have said before, we will put everything behind pursuing the release of these hostages, whether they are the resources of our intelligence, the resources of our military; this is clearly a high priority.
Yes? Let's take a couple more.
Q Yeah, just quickly, could you clarify, is the American who is held captive, is he a hostage or a prisoner of war?
MR. SENOR: Again, I will leave it to CPIC to give you his classification.
Q Melinda Liu of Newsweek magazine. A few days ago, there were reports about an Iraqi army unit that was supposed to be deployed in Fallujah, but the deployment was cancelled because they had been shot at in Shula or perhaps had not followed orders there. Can you help -- walk me through what exactly happened with that unit?
MR. SENOR: Are you talking about the 36th Battalion of the ICDC?
Q This -- what I understood was that it was an actual Iraqi army battalion.
MR. SENOR: Okay. That was --
Q But I'm interested in that one, too, the ICDC --
MR. SENOR: Okay. Well, the army unit was much earlier in the week. And again, that's one for the military to handle -- CJTF-7. Stick around for a minute. I'll get someone to talk to you.
Anything on the civilian side? Any questions on the civilian side? Yes?
Q Phil Reeves from NPR. On the question of Fallujah, which we were talking about earlier, can I just clarify one issue? Where do you stand at this stage with those who killed the four Americans in Fallujah? Is it part of your requirements from the people of Fallujah that they are handed over?
MR. SENOR: I am not going to get into specifics in the press about these conditions that we are articulating in our discussions. But at a very broad level, I will say that our goal is to remove foreign fighters, international terrorists, Mukhabarats, Fedayeen Saddam that are operating out of Fallujah. And we believe that any one of those groups may have been responsible for the maiming of those four civilian contractors.
Q In Najaf, has the Iranian delegation left, or are they still trying to mediate the conflict involving Sadr? Have they responded to the United States' expressed intent that they not try to insert themselves into those negotiations?
MR. SENOR: We are not monitoring the Iranian delegation's affairs. So they're not engaging in any meetings on our behalf. We have made it clear to them that we do not want them playing a middleman role between Sadr and his interlocutors and us; that we believe this issue should be resolved by Iraqis, not Iranians.
We also made it clear to them -- and we were firm -- that their role here should be in Iraq, whatever they're -- work they're doing, should be constructive, not destructive. Again, we were very firm with them on these points. I don't know what their travel plans are going forward. You should contact the Iranian Foreign Ministry for those details.
Q (Through interpreter.) Osama Hamed (sp) from Peace and War, IWPR. The resistance, or what they call them, the Iraqi resistance, they have changed their policy and techniques in fighting. They have started capturing prisoners in order to be exchanged with the people or their prisoners in here. Do you think that this kind of policy might work in succeeding in achieving some success in the negotiations that they are taking place right now?
MR. SENOR: Again, I -- it can't be clear enough: we are not going to negotiate with terrorists. Period. End of issue.
Q (Through interpreter.) My question is can we know what are the outcomes of the negotiation between you and Muqtada Sadr?
MR. SENOR: As I've said before, there are individuals and organizations that have come to us trying to reach a peaceful solution on the Sadr situation, and we too want to reach a peaceful resolution. And in so doing, we have communicated to any one of these parties what our principles are: Rule of law must prevail in Iraq; illegal militias and violent mobs must be disbanded, shut down; and government properties and assets must be returned. Those are our principles. We communicate them to anybody who wants to listen, and they can go on and communicate it to others. That is the state of play.
We've got time for one more question. Go ahead.
Q Dan, I wonder if you could address the 36th ICDC Battalion. What, exactly, happened with them, and what's their situation now?
GEN. KIMMITT: The 36th ICDC Battalion is still operating side by side with the U.S. Marine Corps out of Fallujah. We have two companies integrated into each of the battalions. And at last report they were acquitting themselves admirably.
MR. SENOR: They had a couple -- yeah, go ahead, Tom?. You need to use the microphone.
Q The road closings would appear from where I sit, for the military proposition, to look like an attempt to protect Baghdad from attacks, to prevent fighters from coming into the city. That would pass the smell test more than claiming that simultaneous road operations were suddenly going on in three different directions.
GEN. KIMMITT: No, I didn't for a minute say it was simply the matter -- the fact that it was only road operations. But if you take a look at where the IEDs have been for the last couple of days, that's where the preponderance are. You can drive up and down those roads and you can see the amount of damage that has been done to those roads. There are many ways to get into Baghdad, but many ways of getting out of Baghdad. We're probably going to have to work on many of these roads, and we're trying to take them probably two at a time.
Q So it's not to prevent fighters from taking the fight to Baghdad, as they have vowed they will?
GEN. KIMMITT: If the fighters would like to take the fight to Baghdad, they'll have the 1st Cavalry Division waiting for them and looking forward to their arrival.
MR. SENOR: People who had questions that weren't able to get answered.
Go ahead, Melinda.
Q Yeah, Melinda Liu, Newsweek. I had a question about an Iraqi army unit that a number of days ago had been reported to have -- initially thought to have been deployed in Fallujah, but then was not deployed because something happened to it in Shula. Can you just give me more details on what exactly happened there?
GEN. KIMMITT: Well, it was a couple of things. We -- and we've said this throughout this entire time period. Overall the Iraqi security forces -- when this latest round of violence hit, we mustered additional forces. Some showed up, some didn't show up. There was an Iraqi battalion that was mustered, that tried to get out to Fallujah, hit IEDs a couple of times, came back, and then sort of made the decision that maybe this isn't what we want to be doing. We are taking a hard look at that battalion and the other battalions, and that's why General Abizaid is looking at some of the initiatives for trying to enhance the command and control of those organizations.
We never said the units would be fully ready by this time. If we had a force inside of Iraq that was capable of completely conducting public security and external security requirements on its own there would be no need for coalition forces here.
Are we disappointed in the performance of some of those units? Yes. Are we going to take actions in the future to try to remediate that? Yes.
Q Can I go back to my question on the convoy campaign, General?
GEN. KIMMITT: Mm-hmm.
Q I was wondering if there's a start date when you perceive when the convoy campaign began, when they were particularly targeted more than usual? And whether you can confirm that 87 trucks were hit yesterday, and if there's an overall figure in the space of perhaps the past week or so how many convoy trucks were lost?
GEN. KIMMITT: I don't know the latter questions. I think we started -- I mean the answer to the latter questions about how many trucks. I can find that out. But that would be a combination of military and civilian, and I think that -- I'm not sure we're keeping records on that.
Now, on the issue of when did it start, probably started around the 4th, 5th and 6th of this month as we started seeing the overall increase in violence; not only do we see an increase in violence coming from the Sadr militia, but we also saw an increase in the number of engagements from IEDs. And those numbers are starting to tamp down, but nonetheless, it's still something that is above our recent trend lines, and it's something that we're taking seriously and we've got to get out there and fix.
MR. SENOR: Sewell, last question.
Q General Kimmitt, I hope you're feeling better. How many miles of roads are affected by these closures, and why was the closure announced only about four and a half or five hours before they took effect?
GEN. KIMMITT: It came as a surprise to a lot of us. I suspect it was in preparation. I don't think there's anything conspiratorial about that announcement. How many miles are affected? I was actually having somebody put it on a map for me so I could figure that out. I don't have the answer right now. We'll have it to you, though.
MR. SENOR: All right, thanks everybody.
Q A question for General Kimmitt --
MR. SENOR: There's the backgrounder right after on the mayoral -- Baghdad mayoral.