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The Future of Iraq: A Conversation with General Raymond T. Odierno (video)

The Future of Iraq: A Conversation with General Raymond T. Odierno

February 16, 2010
 
Having spent the last three years in Iraq, General Raymond T. Odierno is uniquely aware of Iraq’s acute challenges and strategic opportunities. General Odierno has served as the Commander of U.S. Forces-Iraq since September 2008. He previously served as the Commanding General for the U.S. Army III Corps from May 2006 to September 2008, and therefore served as the Commander of Multi-National Corps-Iraq during the Corps’ deployment from November 2006 to February 2008. General Odierno also commanded the 4th Infantry Division during its deployment to Iraq from April 2003 to March 2004. “He is noted for being one of few Army generals in history to command a division, corps and entire theater in the same conflict.”
 
On February 16th, the Institute for the Study of War hosted an event with General Odierno at the Army and Navy Club. General Odierno offered his insights into Iraq’s evolution since the Surge, the political challenges facing Iraq this year, the security challenges that the American drawdown will pose to Iraq, the policies of Iraq’s neighbors, and the potential for long-term success.
 
Please see transcript link above.
 
 

 

 

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Transcript: 

<p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF WAR<br />
<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;MILITARY ANALYSIS AND EDUCATION FOR CIVILIAN LEADERS<br />
<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&quot;THE FUTURE OF IRAQ: A CONVERSATION WITH GENERAL RAYMOND T. ODIERNO&quot;<br />
<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;February 16, 2010<br />
<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Army and Navy Club<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;901 17th Street, N.W.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Washington, D.C.&nbsp; 20006<br />
<br />
&nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;P R O C E E D I N G S</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL KEANE:&nbsp; Good morning, everyone.&nbsp; I'm Jack Keane, and on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Institute of War and our CEO Kim Kagan, welcome.&nbsp; We're delighted to have you here.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;We've been at war in Iraq and now in transition for seven years and for -- except for some brief interruption, General Ray Odierno has been involved in just about every aspect of that which is pretty remarkable as a division commander and as corps commander and as multinational force commander and now the Commander of U.S. Forces in Iraq.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Some people don't truly appreciate the level of commitment senior generals have.&nbsp; They don't want anybody patting them on the back for it, but to spend six out of the last seven years away from your family is pretty significant commitment and that's what this general's been doing, and when the final history and chapter is written on Iraq, he's going to be a large part of it, that's for sure. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;I was over at the British Embassy a year and a half ago and the Chief of Defense after dinner made a statement which I totally agree with but coming from was more profound. He said, &quot;Counterinsurgency has always been the corn in the realm for the British Military, given 150 years of struggling with insurgents, and we sort of think we had a corner on the market until what the Americans did in Iraq as a result of their counterinsurgency strategy put in with the additional forces from the surge.&quot;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;He said, &quot;We have to go to school on that to understand how we can make a turnaround, which normally takes many years and do that in months, which is somewhat unprecedented.&quot;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And the General behind me here put together the operational plan to do that, was an advocate for the change to the strategy, put together the operational plan that he and General Petraeus executed, but it was he and his staff that did the details on all of that and it is truly a remarkable piece of work that many people to this day still don't understand what happened and how it happened.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And now he's overseeing the transition in Iraq which is key.&nbsp; As we all know, the stability of Iraq is key to the stability of the region itself and General Odierno's contribution with that and working with our embassy, our ambassador and working with Prime Minister Maliki has been crucial these last months as they execute the Status of Forces Agreement but even more significantly than that execute the Strategic Framework Agreement which establishes a long-term partnership between the United States and Iraq.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So it's my pleasure to introduce General Ray Odierno who I've known for many years and is a dear friend and we're so thankful to have him in the United States Military.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; General Odierno, thank you very much for coming to join us today and as General Keane said, it is a great honor for us at the Institute for the Study of War to have you here and a greater honor because of all that you have contributed to our success in Iraq, the extraordinary operations that you have conducted at every command echelon, and for the extraordinary support that you've provided to those of us who are studying Iraq, and who are really interested in its outcome, and so before we start, I actually want to give you your thank you gift on behalf of the Institute for the Study of War.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;I know that you're aware that you've participated in interviews for the surge, the whole story, the documentary film that we put together to describe what happened in Iraq in 2007 and in particular the extraordinary operations that you and your staff conducted, and this is available on Amazon.com and iTunes, but I think that for your work, you should certainly get a free copy.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Thank you very much.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Thank you.&nbsp; Thank you, Kim.&nbsp; I appreciate it very much.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;I actually have Kim at a disadvantage because she's usually jet lagging when she comes to see me in Iraq.&nbsp; So she has the advantage today because I'm jet lagging now.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; Well, if you need some coffee just wave, we'll work that out.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Our format today is, of course, a discussion and conversation format.&nbsp; I have lots of questions for General Odierno.&nbsp; We're going to start talking about what's going on in Iraq and then at intervals throughout the course of the discussion we'll open it up to questions on the same subject that we're talking about to make sure that we have a continuous flow of conversation about what's happening in Iraq.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And, honestly, General Odierno, I can't -- I can't think of a more critical moment to have you here in Washington.&nbsp; We're three weeks before Iraq's second and quite dramatic election for its new Parliament and therefore for its new prime minister and I think it's a critical time to be studying Iraq, to be thinking about Iraq's future and what really lies ahead.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And so my first question to you is, is Iraq on a path to political success?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Well, I think -- I tell everyone that I think success and victory and all those kinds of things we won't know till three to five to 10 years from now, but I think we're still moving along the path that we have an opportunity in Iraq today that we might never get again in our lifetimes.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;We have -- we are involved with the government.&nbsp; We have a relationship with the Government of Iraq that gives us an opportunity to develop a democratic Iraq that has a long-term partnership with the United States and I don't know if we'll have that opportunity again.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So I think it's important that we understand we have an opportunity today and that we have to take advantage of that opportunity. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;We have gotten through many different steps forward that I think have gone better than expected.&nbsp; The implementation of the Security Agreement in 2009, I think everyone was nervous about it.&nbsp; I was a bit nervous about it as we went through it, but I would argue it's been a success.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;We've turned over the responsibility for the entire security file to the Government of Iraq.&nbsp; We've reduced our forces in Iraq and they have been able to sustain and in fact continue to improve security over 2009.&nbsp; We can talk more about that later.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And, in addition, what we've seen is incredible development of the government.&nbsp; It's nowhere near as mature a government that we see in some other Western cultures for democracies but they certainly have made tremendous strides.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;I remember sitting in their first National Security Council meetings back in late 2006 and I think about -- I was invited to one, we don't sit in them anymore, last Sunday, a week ago Sunday and I look at how it matured and the issues they were talking about and the solutions they were trying to come up with to solve some of the security issues.&nbsp; So you've seen the government grow over time.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So with that, I think they are on the right path, but this election will be important and we had successful provincial elections last year, but today, as we move towards the national elections, we are beginning to see how important these are.&nbsp; They are important to everyone in the region, they are important to the people of Iraq, and they're important to people outside the region because of the impact it could have on stability not only in Iraq but in the Middle East as a whole, and that's why I think we've seen so much attention paid to these elections coming up and what the new government will look like and where they will go.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;I think that's all positive, but the next six months will determine how we go through that process and will the fragile stability we have in Iraq continue?&nbsp; I think it will, but it will be a very important period of time, these next six months, as we negotiate this.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; Can you tell me a little bit more about what you think made the provincial elections successful really this time last year?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Yes.&nbsp; I think, first off, security was much better.&nbsp; People, for the first time, voted on issues not based on necessarily sectarian issues.&nbsp; It was about do I have electricity, do I have water, do I feel more secure, who will do that for me and who will bring me those things, and we saw, of course, what happened was every incumbent got voted out, you know, which is a pretty interesting concept, and many surprises --<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;[Laughter.]</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Many surprises throughout Iraq when this happened.&nbsp; They didn't expect it, and I think people have learned from that and as we led up to the national elections, you have seen them try to discuss more issues that involve the people themselves.&nbsp; So I think that's the impact that's also starting to have on the national elections.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; What is the tenor of the political debate now inside Iraq?&nbsp; How would you characterize the kinds of campaigns and discussions?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Well, the campaign season just began on the 12th of February, on Friday, but there -- although that's the official campaign, there clearly has been maneuvering that's been going on.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;One of the things that's concerning to me now is in the early stages of this process, I think the story's been diverted a bit and I think it's been diverted trying to drive it more down the sectarian line which I think is unfortunate today, based on the de-Ba'athification, disqualification of some candidates.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;It's not the fact that we believe there shouldn't be de-Ba'athification because we all agree there should be de-Ba'athification, but it's about is it transparent, is it going by the Rule of Law, and so what's happened is the early part of the campaign process has turned in -- has turned into mainly about de-Ba'athification and trying -- in fact, in some cases driven some people towards back to sectarian issues.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;What I think we'll see, though, as we get closer to the elections, I think we'll see a drive away from that and I think we'll see it return to what are the issues of the people which goes back to do I feel secure, am I getting the services I want, do I have the job I want, how is the economic development going, and how are these political leaders representing me regionally, and I think it will go back to those issues over time.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; Who and what is actually driving the discussion toward de-Ba'athification and toward the sectarian --</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Well, I mean, there's --</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; -- politics?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; -- lots of theories and everybody would have their own theory on this, but it's clear that, you know, there are -- there are many countries who have -- who have a lot at stake, depending on how Iraq turns out.&nbsp; Some of them -- I'm not going to name specific names, but some don't really want the democratic process to succeed because of the pressure it might put on their own government.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;We have others who want to have a lot of influence over Iraq for many reasons:&nbsp; for the protection of their own nation, for the fact that they believe that they would like to see a weak government that they can control so they can better protect their borders and in many ways so they can control Iraq's development and they don't become a challenger to them in the future as a state on the rise.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So I think it's a combination of all those things. So you have these different agendas, some coming from Sunni Arab countries, some coming from -- from Persian Shi'a Arab countries who are -- who are trying to drive the elections a certain way, and so what we're seeing in the beginning is this sectarian divide.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;What we want is we want it to come back together and be about Iraq, not about these other regional countries. It needs to be about Iraq. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;I believe the people of Iraq know that and the polling that we're taking suggests that they know that.&nbsp; It's the politicians in Iraq yet that might not quite be there and that's -- that's what we hope will change here over the last month, three weeks of the campaign.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; What gives you confidence that -- that in fact the politicians will be able to -- to talk about issues and will be able to conduct their campaign on the basis of issues, when in fact the tenor of the campaign was set on the basis of sectarian politics?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Well, I think again through -- I think that through the people pressuring them on what they want to talk about and they all read polls.&nbsp; There's many polls being conducted in Iraq, and all the polls are very clear to them what's important and -- and it's -- Number 1 is the economy, is jobs.&nbsp; Number 2 -- sound familiar?&nbsp; Number 2, although a bit different, is basic services, electricity, water.&nbsp; 3 becomes something like a better Iraq for my children and 4 is security and 5 are other things and that's basically how we see the polls playing out in Iraq.&nbsp; So I think ultimately it's going to have to drive towards that.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Now, I would also say, as I think most people know, this is a parliamentary system in Iraq and the elections really in many ways do not elect the prime minister or the president.&nbsp; What they do is they elect a parliament who will then in turn choose a prime minister and a president and we believe that no one will have a large enough majority that they will not be forced to form a coalition that involves more than two parties.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So how that negotiation begins after the elections themselves will also be extremely interesting, in fact probably be the most important part.&nbsp; Once the people vote for who represents them in Parliament, how then does that debate go after the elections.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; What are the things that we here in the United States should be looking for in that government formation process to know that it is going in a way that is healthy for the Iraqi state?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Well, what we have to do is protect the democratic process.&nbsp; And to me, that's the most important.&nbsp; What we need is when this election is over, people feel&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; the people of Iraq feel that the democratic process served them, and that it was not hijacked by a few people that were able to push the democratic process in a certain way and it didn't work. &nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So the worst case, in my mind, is they lose faith in the process itself because if that happens, that could really cause a struggle next year, the year after, the year after.&nbsp; If they believe the democratic process for the most part served them, I believe we're really on track to really move Iraq forward.&nbsp; And that's why I think that's the most important part. &nbsp;</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; One of the media themes that we have been getting from Iraq, echoing here throughout the United States, is that the United States has been too interventionist in the crisis over the banned candidates.&nbsp; And that has generally stemmed actually from one individual, and if you can't name him, I can.&nbsp; Ahmed Chalabi has been very active in the media, putting forth this thesis that Vice President Biden in fact was overly involved. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;What role did the United States play in the candidate ban crisis?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Well, first, yeah, let me be clear.&nbsp; First, the Vice President, when he came&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; well, first, he didn't come over at all to intervene.&nbsp; The Vice President makes periodic visits about every 60 to 75 days.&nbsp; The President has given him responsibility for Iraq, so he makes regular trips.&nbsp; This was one of the planned trips.&nbsp; It did come at a time while the de-Ba'athification issue was at the center of attention in Iraq. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;But what we talked about is exactly what I said.&nbsp; Our position all along has been that this is not about de Ba'athification, per se.&nbsp; By the Iraqi constitution, you have the right to work through de Ba'athification, disqualify anybody who's involved in the Ba'ath Party, or leanings toward the Ba'ath party, be disqualified from participating in the government.&nbsp; Nobody denies that. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;The important piece in a democratic process is that it's transparent, and it's according to the rule of law, and it's validated by the constitutional processes that were established in the constitution. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So what we try to is ensure that everyone understands that, and the fact that it becomes a transparent process, it's done by the rules of law as established by the constitution.&nbsp; And that's what we try to effect. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And so what was not clear, and probably today is still a bit unclear, what actually was the authority of this commission.&nbsp; What's the authority of those running it, and why were they able to do this, and was it according to the law?&nbsp; And that's what we wanted them to review. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So we wanted it to go through a review process.&nbsp; And it's still going through that process today.&nbsp; It's not completely through that process.&nbsp; But unfortunately, it happened right before the election, which was clearly planned very carefully by certain individuals, Ahmed Chalabi and others who, you know, I would argue are getting support by other nations who in fact are trying to push very specific agendas inside of Iraq.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; Has the process then been transparent, or has it not been transparent?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Well, I think we would all&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; our position hasn't been as transparent as we'd like it to be.&nbsp; For example, it's unclear:&nbsp; How did they come about this list?&nbsp; What was used to put them on the list?&nbsp; But at least now it has gone through a court, who has done some rulings.&nbsp; People have been removed from the list.&nbsp; People have been added onto the list. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;But the whole process itself, in my mind, wasn't completely transparent to all those involved.&nbsp; And so I think that's one thing that I think still has to be discussed and talked about. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;But what we don't want to do is, again, make this the only issue because when you come down to it, out of 6,190 candidates, it's going to turn out to be about 140 who were disqualified.&nbsp; So in my mind, yes, for those 140&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; and really, probably, it's a handful who were probably really ever candidates to be part of the parliament&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; we don't want the election hijacked and pushed towards an issue that really is not the fundamental issue. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;What we want is we want it to be about Iraq, the issues facing Iraq, and about the democratic process moving forward in Iraq.&nbsp; And that's where we want to drive the discussion now, is in that direction. &nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; Can you illuminate us on a technical question?&nbsp; We understand the ballots went to printing, went to press, in mid-January.&nbsp; So what is it that the average Iraqi is actually going to look at on election day?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Well, you have two documents.&nbsp; You have a ballot, and the ballot has all the political parties on it.&nbsp; Then you have a candidates list that's posted in every&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; and it's done by province because the votes are by province. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So, in other words, different candidates run in different provinces.&nbsp; So it's about the candidates list that's posted in each one of the places&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; each one of the polling centers.&nbsp; When you vote, you have to first vote for the party.&nbsp; And then you can either choose to vote for a candidate or not choose to vote for a candidate. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So in reality, it's still about the party.&nbsp; But also, you can vote for a candidate, and then if a candidate gets a certain amount of votes, he then rises to be&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; he automatically gets selected. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;If they don't reach a certain number of votes, then the party gets to pick&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; if they win ten seats, they get to pick the top ten names on their list.&nbsp; So in my mind, again, we've allowed this argument about de Ba'athification to really drive this too far.&nbsp; And the impact actually on the election will be small. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So it's important for us now to move forward with the election itself.&nbsp; And oh, by the way, they can add names to the list all the way up to very close to when the election starts.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; Let me turn to media questions about the election.&nbsp; Please.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;QUESTION:&nbsp; Viola Gienger from Bloomberg News.&nbsp; You mentioned earlier on that this is an opportunity for the U.S. to be engaged and an opportunity that we may never get again.&nbsp; You seem to be suggesting&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; do you think we are engaged?&nbsp; Do you think the U.S. is engaged as much as it should be at this point, or is there more to be done?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Yeah, I do.&nbsp; I mean, it's a very&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; yeah, thanks.&nbsp; I mean, it is a very complex issue.&nbsp; I mean, we are very engaged.&nbsp; We have 98,000 soldiers on the ground, sailors, airmen, and Marines.&nbsp; I consider that to be very, very engaged.&nbsp; We are spending billions of dollars in Iraq still today.&nbsp; We have the largest embassy in the world in Iraq.&nbsp; So we are engaged across several different levels. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;It's not today that I worry about.&nbsp; It's today.&nbsp; It's tomorrow.&nbsp; It's 2011.&nbsp; It's 2012, '13, '14.&nbsp; As everyone knows, all our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines will come out at the end of 2011.&nbsp; That doesn't mean our commitment needs to end. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;It needs to be a long-term commitment.&nbsp; The commitment just changes.&nbsp; It changes from one based on mutual security and cooperation, with us having forces on the ground, to one that's across the wide spectrum of governmental support&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; economic, diplomatic, security, environmental, educational.&nbsp; And it's how we invest in that that will be important. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And I think&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; so our challenge we have now is how we transition from a military-centric operation to a civilian-led operation, and then after 2011, how we continue to support Iraq's progress.&nbsp; And to me, that's what's very important here.&nbsp; And so that's what we have to make sure we stay engaged with. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;I've said before, and the story I tell is about six months ago now my wife had asked me if I ever saw &quot;Charlie Wilson's War.&quot;&nbsp; I hadn't seen it.&nbsp; And so I watched it one night.&nbsp; And what worries me is the last scene of that movie, even though it's about Afghanistan, not about Iraq, if anybody hasn't seen it. &nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;But Charlie Wilson had gotten billions of dollars to fight the insurgency in Afghanistan against the Russians.&nbsp; And at the end, he went to get $2 million in order to start an education program in Afghanistan, and he couldn't get anybody to help him to support that program. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So what I worry about is we have to stay focused that everyone understands that 2011, '12, '13, '14, we have to continue to invest in Iraq.&nbsp; And it's in our best interest. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And it's not just about, well, Iraq has enough money to do it on their own; let them do it.&nbsp; It's about us staying engaged, influencing and helping to mold them as they go through this very complex&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; the complex curves of setting up a democracy inside of Iraq.&nbsp; And so that's why I think it's important.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; We'll have time to talk about that at greater length.&nbsp; Elections-only questions, please.&nbsp; In the fourth row.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;QUESTION:&nbsp; Tam Dolby, Financial Times.&nbsp; General, thank you very much indeed for doing this.&nbsp; I just really wanted to ask you about the scheduled drawdown to 50,000 because&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; No.&nbsp; We're not talking about scheduled drawdown.&nbsp; We're talking only about elections.&nbsp; Is there&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;QUESTION:&nbsp; Well, I just&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; No.&nbsp; We're only talking about elections. &nbsp;</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;QUESTION:&nbsp; Just because isn't it&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; Is there any question specifically on elections?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;QUESTION:&nbsp; But it was premised&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; isn't that premised on the elections, and having a clean result, and having a government in situ very soon?&nbsp; I just wanted to see to what extent is that premised on a best case scenario, given the delay in elections and the delay that it takes to form a government by a best case scenario.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Well, right now, as I said a minute ago, we're about 98,000 inside of Iraq.&nbsp; And I have&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; as we built to this point, we built in some room for movement of the election.&nbsp; So the election today does not impact that.&nbsp; And it's given me&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; it gives us&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; I've always said about 60 days following the elections is when we really need to do an evaluation to determine what security will look like. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So I have that room.&nbsp; I have contingency plans to make recommendations if it doesn't go well.&nbsp; I have contingency plans to make recommendations if it goes okay.&nbsp; And I have recommendations if it goes very well.&nbsp; And so we will to work our way through that. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;I believe I have flexibility to at least make recommendations to the leadership on what we should do based on the situation on the ground.&nbsp; And that'll be something that we watch every day following the results of the elections. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Some people will say that they worry about this because, well, it took them five months to form the government last time.&nbsp; It's my assessment, though, within the first 60 days or so, we'll know if there's going to be a problem that's going to lead to some violent behavior that would require us to maintain more force. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;The last point I'd make to everyone is 50,000 soldiers is still a lot of U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines.&nbsp; There's still a lot of U.S. capability on the ground.&nbsp; And so it's not just we only have 50,000.&nbsp; It's that we have 50,000 on the ground.&nbsp; And I still think we can influence the outcome.&nbsp; Because I have a lot of confidence in the Iraqi security forces and their capability.&nbsp; They still need some support from us.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; Elections questions.&nbsp; Elections.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;QUESTION:&nbsp; Yeah.&nbsp; Two very quick ones.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; Please introduce yourself.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;QUESTION:&nbsp; Oh, I'm Bob Dreyfuss with the Nation magazine.&nbsp; One is Ali al-Lami, who was arrested by the U.S. a year and a half ago.&nbsp; And I was wondering if you could kind of clear up who this guy is and what his connections to Iran are and why he was arrested and why he was freed. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And sort of the related question is, I mean, you seem reluctant to talk about Iran's influence in Iraq.&nbsp; But a lot of people say that the fact that Maliki, you know, didn't cave in or exceed or agree with, whatever you want to do, with the American suggestions about transparency and other things indicates that Iran has a lot more influence as the U.S. drawdown approaches, and the U.S. has a lot less.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Yeah.&nbsp; Al-Lami is a Sadr'ist by trade.&nbsp; He was arrested after an operation in Sadr City where both Iraqi security forces, U.S. civilians, and U.S. soldiers were leaving a meeting that they had with the local government in Sadr City, and their vehicles were attacked with IEDs as they left the meeting. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;There were some accusations.&nbsp; We had some intelligence that said that al-Lami was the one who directed these attacks on these individuals.&nbsp; He was released in August of '09 as part of the drawdown of our detention facilities because we did not have the actual prosecutorial evidence in order to bring him in front of a court of law in Iraq.&nbsp; All we had was intelligence that linked him to this attack. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So, as we had some others, we had to release him.&nbsp; He has been involved in very nefarious activities in Iraq for some time.&nbsp; It is disappointing that somebody like him was in fact put in charge or has been able to run this commission inside of Iraq, in my opinion. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;He is&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; him and Chalabi clearly are influenced by Iran.&nbsp; We have direct intelligence that tells us that.&nbsp; They've had several meetings in Iran, meeting with a man named Mohandas, which is an ex-council representative member&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; still is a council representative member&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; who was on the terrorist watch list for a bombing in Kuwait in the 1980s.&nbsp; They are tied to him.&nbsp; He sits at the right-hand side of the Quds Force commandant, Qassem Soleimani.&nbsp; And we believe they're absolutely involved in influencing the outcome of the election.&nbsp; And it's concerning that they've been able to do that over time. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Chalabi, who&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; you know, has been involved in Iraqi politics in many different ways over the last seven years, mostly bad. &nbsp;</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;QUESTION:&nbsp; And [inaudible], is he connected to that?&nbsp; Or is that a separate story?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Yeah.&nbsp; I'm not going to&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; it's not clear, so I won't comment on that.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; Yeah.&nbsp; I think that's something that I encourage you to talk about with Marisa Cochrane Sullivan on the basis of the wonderful work that she's done for ISW on Shi'a militia groups, all from open sources. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;But I think that's actually an interesting transition to the question of Iranian-backed extremist groups.&nbsp; We have, in fact, dealt with groups such as Asaib al-Haq, the League of the Righteous, in the past.&nbsp; We have dealt with special groups backed by Iran. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;What has happened to these special groups?&nbsp; And are the Iranians still backing violent proxies?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; What's happened is, over time, after the March 2008 Operation Charge of the Knights both in Basra and in Sadr City, where very successful Iraqi-led, U.S.-supported operations had a significant impact on militia elements, specifically the Shi'a militia elements, operating mainly in the south and in Baghdad, we saw a breakup of many of the militia elements. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;But the result of that has been the establishment of some groups, two specifically&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Kataeb Hezbollah as well as the Promise Day Brigade&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; that continue to get funds and training inside if Iran in order to conduct operations in Iraq. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;We still have EFPs explode just about every day in Iraq.&nbsp; We still uncover Iranian rockets and other goods that are made and individuals who are trained in Iran to conduct attacks against both U.S. and Iraqi security forces, I want to emphasize. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So this has been consistent.&nbsp; It's lower than it's been.&nbsp; I'll just take it a little bit further.&nbsp; Iran clearly has a strategy that goes across lethal aims, diplomatic aims, and then soft power aims, i.e. influencing people through investment in the economy and into some other practices inside of Iraq. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;We support very much a good relationship between Iraq and Iran.&nbsp; They are neighbors.&nbsp; What we want it to be is the right kind of relationship, one that does not involve lethal action inside of Iraq, one that does not involve trying to gain undue influence over diplomatic and political leanings inside of Iraq.&nbsp; We want to see a relationship that's built on mutual trust and understanding, which we have not yet seen.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; Does Iran actually respect the sovereignty of Iraq?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Well, I mean, I would say since they conduct and support lethal actions inside of Iraq, it's clear that they don't.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; Yeah.&nbsp; We had watched the beginning of a reconciliation process among Shi'a groups, and even Shi'a extremist groups such as the League of the Righteous.&nbsp; What's happened to that reconciliation process?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Asaib al-Haq is what we call them, and I did leave them out&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; that's another group that, over time, has been supported by Iran, by the way&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; is a group that there's been about an 18-month reconciliation process between the government of Iraq and Asaib al-Haq.&nbsp; It's one that's been worked very carefully by the government. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Asaib al-Haq declared a ceasefire back in May, I think, approximately, of '09.&nbsp; They for the most part had held to that ceasefire.&nbsp; They have elements&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; what you're now seeing is a splintering of that group.&nbsp; Some still want to go through the reconciliation process.&nbsp; Others are splintering back into violent access. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And so they claim the recent kidnapping of the Department of the Army civilian in Baghdad.&nbsp; I think these are splinter elements who clearly want to go back along the lines of lethal activity inside of Iraq.&nbsp; So as we always have, we work very closely with the Iraqi security forces to deal with this. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;One of the things that I've been most pleased with, which I want to make clear to everyone, is in Iraq, the Iraqi security forces have and still conduct significant operations in southern Iraq against these groups.&nbsp; Just a few days ago there was a significant operation in Maysan Province which piked up several individuals from Kataeb Hezbollah. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;There's been operations in Basra.&nbsp; There's been operations in Baghdad.&nbsp; There's been operations in all of the southern provinces, Iraqi security force-led, supported by U.S. forces.&nbsp; So they have shown&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; the security force has shown the dedication to go after all target sets if they are enemies of the government of Iraq.&nbsp; And I think that's an important step as we move forward.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; And in the category of enemies of Iraq, is al-Qaeda in Iraq still a threat to the government of Iraq?&nbsp; Is it an insurgent group or is it a terrorist group?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Well, first, I believe the only way al-Qaeda in Iraq can be a threat to the government of Iraq is the government of Iraq lets it be.&nbsp; And I'll now explain that. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Al-Qaeda in Iraq, back in 2004 and 2005 and 2006 and 2007, was a broad-based insurgency that had permeated all of northern Iraq and central Iraq and was conducting significant operations throughout Iraq.&nbsp; Over the last&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; since the beginning of 2007 till today, we've been able to make significant progress against al-Qaeda in Iraq, significantly degrade their capacity.&nbsp; It is a shadow of what it once was. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So what they've done is they've transitioned it from a broad-based insurgency into a covert terrorist organization who focus solely on conducting high-profile attacks against the Iraqi people and against the governmental institutions of Iraq. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;What is their goal?&nbsp; Their goal is they want to see the government of Iraq fail.&nbsp; And then they want to have ungoverned territory that can be filled by al-Qaeda and other groups that will allow them to maintain safe havens and sanctuaries.&nbsp; They are a long ways from that ever happening. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So what we see now that's frustrating to all of us there is they pick the softest targets possible to kill as many or wound as many civilians as possible because they want to see an overreaction from the government of Iraq.&nbsp; They want to see a miscalculation from the government of Iraq that could push Iraq back into some sort of sectarian violence or lose faith in its own government.&nbsp; They've been absolutely unsuccessful in doing that. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;All of our measurements&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; you know, we measure everything.&nbsp; And again, I don't&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; when things were bad in 2006/2007, I said it then and I'll say it now, is the number of incidents and the type of incidents don't necessarily define what Iraq is, but it is a point that you must consider. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And we have consistently continued to come down in every category, to include high-profile attacks.&nbsp; 2009 was about 60 percent less than 2008.&nbsp; And that's after turning over the security file to the government of Iraq.&nbsp; 2010 is continuing to either sustain itself or go down a little bit from 2009.&nbsp; So their capacity to sustain and do this over a long period of time and across the entirety of Iraq is no longer possible.&nbsp; But they can still do attacks. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;If I could just&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; since we're talking about it, I do want to really talk about security in Iraq itself.&nbsp; It's hard to describe this to anybody who's not there every day.&nbsp; But the basic security of Iraq is significantly different than it ever has been. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;When you go into Baghdad, if you go into Basra, if you go into Ramadi, if you go into Mosul, if you go into Kirkuk, if you go into any city in Iraq, you see significant improvement of the day-to-day lives of Iraqis.&nbsp; It's completely different than what it was two to three years ago.&nbsp; It's different than it was six months ago. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;You see an expansion of the economy.&nbsp; You see expansion of shops.&nbsp; You see traffic jams.&nbsp; You see all those things that talks about normalcy beginning to return.&nbsp; That normalcy today, though, is broken up sometimes by these high-profile incidents. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;But the reaction of the Iraqis has been exactly what we'd like to see.&nbsp; They condemn al-Qaeda.&nbsp; They say the best way to fight this is to vote in a democratic process, bring a leadership in to continue to go after these elements.&nbsp; We continue to see that theme across Iraq. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;They've rejected al-Qaeda.&nbsp; Iraq as an Arab nation has rejected al-Qaeda.&nbsp; And they don't want al-Qaeda inside of Iraq.&nbsp; That's a huge, huge statement.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; As we look at security in Iraq, obviously our thoughts naturally turn to the Iraqi security forces.&nbsp; And I would certainly like to ask you whether you think that the Iraqi security forces are capable of maintaining security against internal threats.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Yeah.&nbsp; I mean, I think, first of all, they have had the lead now for security for about a year, but specifically since July of 2009 when we came out of the cities.&nbsp; We are still&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; first of all&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; and they continue to still improve, but they show the ability to plan.&nbsp; They show the ability to execute. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;We still have some modernization that has to occur in the logistics side of the force.&nbsp; We still have some modernization that they need for their Air Force.&nbsp; We still have some modernization for their Navy that has to take place so they can protect their oil platforms, the center of their economic development. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;But they are continuing to see constant improvement.&nbsp; So I truly believe by 2011 they will be able to do internal security on their own.&nbsp; And I believe they'll have foundational external security, but not complete ability to protect themselves from any external threats, by 2011, which will&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; we will have to have a continued commitment to assist them in developing that capacity.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; What is it that the Iraqi security forces now do in order to maintain internal security, and who does it?&nbsp; That is to say, is it the Iraqi Army now that is actually maintaining order inside Iraq, or is it the various police agencies that are maintaining order?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; It's a combination of all.&nbsp; And it depends on what part of the country you're in.&nbsp; And I'll give you a few examples. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;If you talk about Kirkuk, Kirkuk has police primacy.&nbsp; Security in Kirkuk is maintained by the police.&nbsp; The Army is outside of the city.&nbsp; In Ramadi, internal to Ramadi, security is done by the police.&nbsp; The Army is outside of the city.&nbsp; In Basra, security is done by the police.&nbsp; The Army is outside of the city. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;In Baghdad, you still have the Army inside of the city, and the federal police, which is a paramilitary, Carabinieri-type organization that helps to supplement the police.&nbsp; In Mosul, the Army is still required to help with security.&nbsp; but slowly, the police are taking over more responsibility. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So in a large portion of Iraq, we have police primacy.&nbsp; But there's still some key areas&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Baghdad, Mosul, Diyala Province&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; where we still have the Army play a significant role in providing security in the cities and in the provinces themselves.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; Is the Army of Iraq a politicized army?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; I would say that it is moving away from being one.&nbsp; The way we define&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; let me go backwards and just talk about the fact that what we look at is a competent, capable, professional army.&nbsp; That's what we're trying to develop. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;We have developed a competent and capable army.&nbsp; We are making progress towards the professional.&nbsp; What do I mean by professional?&nbsp; When I talk about professional, I mean about an army who's dedicated to its constitution and the implementation of its constitution, and in no way supports a political party or an individual.&nbsp; They support the office. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;I think the large majority of them are professionalized to support the constitution, but we are not there yet.&nbsp; We still have some work to do.&nbsp; There are many within Iraq&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; I believe it'll take five to ten years, a generation, to get through this because Iraq has been run for a long time based on political favoritism.&nbsp; And culturally, it's kind of what they've done.&nbsp; They are trying to break themselves of this, but it still plays a role inside of Iraq. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And I think one of the roles that we play today is we are the checks and balances against the politicization of the military.&nbsp; I have a conversation about this all the time with many different leaders. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And it's not necessarily&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; and I want to make this clear&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; it's not necessarily the prime minister who politicizes them.&nbsp; Sometimes it's provincial governors, or it's party leaders who attempt to politicize certain aspects of the military. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And so we have to deal with all of them to understand to have a true military for Iraq, it has to be one that's professional, which means it's dedicated to the constitution and not individuals.&nbsp; So we're not there yet.&nbsp; We're making progress on that but we're not quite there yet.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; Does Prime Minister Maliki understand the limitations on what the Army is to be used for inside Iraq?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; I think, for the most part, they understand how the Army should be used.&nbsp; Again, in many different situations, there's many different viewpoints of a very specific situation.&nbsp; Where some people would say it's the political use of a military, others would say it's because there's violence getting ready to break out and we had to put the military in to keep violence from breaking out. <br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So it's a very subjective analysis that has to go on.&nbsp; But I would say, for the most part, the prime minister is very clear and understands what the Army should be used for.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; How would you characterize the standoff in Salad ad-Din province and how would you characterize the use of force in Diyala province?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Yeah, I would just say first -- the first question we always ask is are the operations being done according to the rule of law.&nbsp; And in every case, the rule of law has been followed. There's been evidence brought to a judge.&nbsp; There's been warrants sworn out by a judge, and those warrants are being executed by their security forces. There is no going out and saying this guy's a problem, we just pick him up.&nbsp; It is based on evidence that's presented to a judge. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;The issue in some places, Diyala specifically, is that some of these charges are back to 2004 and '5, and as we've gone through reconciliation process, some people believe that they've reconciled, so these charges -- and they've gone through the amnesty law, and so they shouldn't be applied.&nbsp; But there's others that say, well, they've continued to do these acts.&nbsp; So it's a fuzzy line that has to be worked out.&nbsp; It's not -- it's not black and white.&nbsp; It is extremely gray.&nbsp; So the thing that we make sure is that they're transparent and they use the rule of law.&nbsp; And in the large majority of these events, they have.&nbsp; When they don't, we talk to them about it.&nbsp; In almost every case, the right action is taken once we do that.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;In Salad ad-Din again, it's a situation where the -- the provincial chair has been by IHAQ determined to be not qualified based on his educational level to serve in the government.&nbsp; This has been -- the presidency council has upheld this.&nbsp; So there's an issue about whether he thinks he should be serving and he doesn't and because of the concern of breakout of violence, the Army has been used to do this.&nbsp; I personally would rather have seen them use the police to do it.&nbsp; I think that's the right move, and I think it would have been done that way.&nbsp; But legitimately, once again, they have used the rule of law.&nbsp; There is some understanding that this individual should not be participating right now, and so because he refused to leave, they are trying to enforce what is their constitution and about who's eligible to be candidates and who isn't. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So it's -- again, it's not a black-and-white situation.&nbsp; It's one of these things that for the next few years we'll continue to see in Iraq.&nbsp; They continue to, though, mature, and over time, we hope that these will be solved by diplomatic measures and not having to use force.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; Given the general level of competency of the Iraqi Security Forces to maintain internal security and given -- given that the ISF is maturing, why is it that we have so many U.S. forces inside Iraq right now?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Well, first again, it goes back to what I said earlier.&nbsp; It is about first ensuring that the democratic process is -- continues to move forward in Iraq.&nbsp; We still have to provide them some capabilities that we will field over the next two years that they just don't have.&nbsp; For example, we're still helping them develop their intelligence capacity.&nbsp; We're still helping them develop their air capacity.&nbsp; We're helping them to develop their planning capacities, their targeting capacities.&nbsp; So we still help them in these ways.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;But more fundamental than that, it's about the psychological and physical support in order to continue to help them to mature diplomatically and economically.&nbsp; With U.S. forces being there, it gives the international community and others a bit more confidence to now invest in Iraq economically.&nbsp; So until we can get this started and then they gain confidence in Iraq itself as we slowly move our forces out over the next two years, I think it's important that it helps them to build this confidence in their economic development.&nbsp; It helps them.&nbsp; Our presence there will help them to build these constituencies within the democratic process that will continue to grow over time.&nbsp; It will help them to fundamentally mature their political processes, so all of these things have an impact when we have soldiers on the ground.&nbsp; And, oh, by the way, we help them with security issues as well.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; So concretely, what does that mean?&nbsp; I mean what do U.S. soldiers in Iraq do now in order to --</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Yeah, well, one of the fallacies I want to make sure is very clear is I go out four times a week to visit battalions and brigades and the one thing we do not do is stay on our FOBs and do nothing.&nbsp; I want to make that very clear.&nbsp; If you went and talked to a battalion colonel, they get very offended when they read that. They're out every single day.&nbsp; They do 14 to 15 operations, but they're doing it with their Iraqi security force partners.&nbsp; They're right there helping them to conduct these operations.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;What's different is we do not do anything unilaterally.&nbsp; Everything we do is completely coordinated with the government of Iraq, and you will never see a U.S. soldier conduct an operation without an Iraqi security force with him, in fact, without an Iraqi security force in the lead of the operation.&nbsp; But they're out every single day working with the Iraqi security force partners.&nbsp; So we still play a very significant role. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And what we're going to do as we draw down is we call it thinning the lines.&nbsp; We won't leave areas blank, but we will slowly reduce the number of U.S. forces that are doing these operations with the Iraqis.&nbsp; And slowly over time, they do more and more. They mature more and more.&nbsp; They're able to do more and more on their own.&nbsp; And that's the -- that's what we've been doing now for the last 18 months, which most people don't know is 75,000 troops have left in Iraq in the last 15 months.&nbsp; We were at 175,000 15 months ago.&nbsp; We're at 98,000 today.&nbsp; 77,000 people have left.&nbsp; And we've done that in such a way that we have not, in fact, impacted the security situation.&nbsp; In fact, it's continued to get better.&nbsp; And that's what we continue to plan on doing as we withdraw down to 50,000 over the next several months.&nbsp; And that's what we'll do when we go down to zero at the end of 2011.&nbsp; We'll do it slowly.&nbsp; As they build their capability, we reduce our capability.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; When you look at that -- that process and that drawdown process, do you see that the U.S. forces will play a consistent role over time in advising and assisting the Iraqi Security Forces? Will they continue to cement democratic processes even when we're down to 50,000 troops?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Yeah, I mean, what I -- what we did is I call it -- the way I try to define it is we're moving from a counterinsurgency base to a stability base force.&nbsp; But the President has defined what our mission will be.&nbsp; It'll be we will train, advise, assist, enable, partner with Iraqi Security Forces.&nbsp; We will continue to support the U.S. Embassy, the U.N. and other nongovernmental agencies in building civil capacity, and we will continue to conduct counterterrorism operations inside of Iraq.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Now, I'm going to tell you that I believe that's really what we're doing today.&nbsp; We are not doing any independent operations anymore.&nbsp; The Iraqis are doing counterinsurgency operations with us training, advising, enabling and partnering with them.&nbsp; We are doing counterterrorism operations, but we're really not even doing those independently.&nbsp; We are doing all our counter -- our highest-end counterterrorism operations are done with -- in complete coordination with Iraqi Security Forces and with Iraqi Security Forces. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So I think this transition will be much smoother than people think on the ground.&nbsp; It'll be smooth just like coming out of the cities was.&nbsp; We actually came out of the cities six to seven months prior to actually announcing that we're out of the cities.&nbsp; We'll transition to stability operations in the same way.&nbsp; We'll do it slowly over time, and, frankly, I suspect by 1 June, 1 July, we'll be doing stability operations across Iraq.&nbsp; And the transition on 1 September will be very -- will be very easy as we go through that -- transparent and easy as we go through that process.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; As we look at those stability operations, do U.S. forces play a peacekeeping role inside of Iraq?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Well, I mean, I think it's unclear.&nbsp; We are -- we are providing some joint forces in the disputed areas right now between the Kurds and the Arabs.&nbsp; That's off to a rocky start, but it's -- it's providing, I still think, some stability in those areas.&nbsp; We have to -- we have to determine whether we need to do that beyond 1 September or not, and if we do, we'll make an allocation to do that.&nbsp; I think we probably will have to do that a little bit beyond 1 September.&nbsp; So that's completely in line with the security agreement, so it should be no issue with continuing to do that.&nbsp; So I think that that is part of stability operations, conducting that type of operation.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; What do the Iraqi people expect from the United States, and, indeed, what do Iraqi politicians expect of the United States and the forces on the ground over the coming six -- six to 12 months?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Well, I think -- I think it's a couple things.&nbsp; First, they want to see an election that's credible and legitimate.&nbsp; The Iraqi Security Forces will provide the majority, 99 percent of the security, but U.S. forces will help them to do that.&nbsp; They'll oversee what's going on.&nbsp; It gives a sense of confidence-building measures for all of the parties involved in the elections to have the U.S. there.&nbsp; We'll do some support to the United Nations to help them successful, specifically with international observers. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;We will also the economic development to start.&nbsp; Twelve contracts have been signed with foreign oil companies that will all begin within the next six, seven, eight, nine months or so.&nbsp; We'll help them to get started by working with the U.S. Embassy, by working with the government of Iraq.&nbsp; And we'll help with developing security, help them develop their own security and how it -- how it then links into Iraqi Security Forces and Iraqi security capacity. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;We hope that will provide confidence for other foreign governments to invest.&nbsp; The Koreans are about ready to invest $3.5 billion in Basra to build a steel plant in Basra.&nbsp; The UAE is about ready to spend a significant amount of money to begin an agricultural -- a agricultural project in the south. So we hope to see more of this as we move forward. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So I think what the Iraqis want to see out of us is to continue to enable their security forces to provide security, create an environment for economic development so when we -- when we get to 2011, they're starting to see their economy grow.&nbsp; They're starting to see their jobs grow.&nbsp; They see that their security forces can handle their security by themselves with no assistance from the United States.&nbsp; I think that's what they expect out of us.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; And has there been a need to -- you've talked about the withdrawal of actually a lot of human beings from -- from Iraq.&nbsp; Has there been a commensurate increase in the number of -- I shouldn't say commensurate increase.&nbsp; Has there been an increase in civilian-provided activities within Iraq such that the United States will be able to meet the expectations that Iraqis have of us?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; I think there's two different levels here.&nbsp; There's a tactical operational level, and then there's a strategic level of engagement.&nbsp; For example, at the tactical operational level, we've had provincial reconstruction teams.&nbsp; Obviously, those will reduce in number as U.S. forces reduce by -- you know, we'll go down from 23 today to 16 for a long period of time and ultimately go down to probably about six by the end of 2011.&nbsp; So the tactical operational support will decrease just because of the fact that -- of the security capacity to help protect the provincial reconstruction teams and the cost of private security in order to protect the provincial reconstruction teams.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;But you will see is an increase in what I call strategic level support in Iraq, and you're already seeing it.&nbsp; We're seeing much bigger engagement from the Agricultural Department.&nbsp; We're seeing much bigger engagement from the Energy Department.&nbsp; We're seeing much bigger engagement from the Commerce Department.&nbsp; We're seeing a bigger engagement from other agencies, and I think that will grow.&nbsp; And this is based on the strategic framework agreement.&nbsp; The State Department will increase its size and people in some areas.&nbsp; For example, they will significantly increase the number of people they have involved in police training as they take that over from U.S. military forces, so you'll see an increase in certain specific areas as we move forward, those that we think are important. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;When we transition out as a military, we transition to three different groups.&nbsp; We transition some responsibilities to the government of Iraq; i.e., some of the security responsibilities.&nbsp; We transition some of the responsibilities to U.N. and nongovernmental organizations.&nbsp; We transition some responsibilities to our own embassy who will take on primacy for these.&nbsp; And then others, hopefully, we'll complete.&nbsp; So there's several transitions that will occur over the next two years till the end of 2011, and us managing those transitions are extremely important as we move forward.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; You began the discussion by talking about the opportunity that the United States has in Iraq and, indeed, the opportunity that Iraq has right now.&nbsp; What are the long-term U.S. interests in seeing a stable and -- a stable Iraq with a kind of just, accountable and representative government that you described?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Well, first again, it goes to a diplomatic and economic and a security partner in a very volatile part of the world.&nbsp; And Iraq has a significant economic upside, not just from its oil industry but from other industries that we think could spin off from that.&nbsp; And that economic -- their ability to develop that economically inside of Iraq.&nbsp; So with economic development and diplomatic development, making this work could have a significant impact across the entire Middle East. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And secondly and lastly, us having a long term strategic partnership, one that is based on common trust and common goals, one that recognizes each other's own sovereignty, over time would help us in my mind to better secure the United States, because that would give us another partner right in the center of the Middle East that can help us to fight terrorism.&nbsp; I will argue that when we leave there, Iraq will have some of the best characters and forces in the Middle East and they can help us to fight this threat against us from many of these other terrorist groups.&nbsp; So I think that's what we have the potential to gain from this relationship I think is significant.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; As we look at that relationship, what kind of engagement is needed by the United States in order to realize this opportunity?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Well, I think&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; think General Keane and yourself mentioned it.&nbsp; It's the Strategic Framework Agreement.&nbsp; Most people don't pay much attention to that.&nbsp; When it was passed in December of '08, everybody paid attention to the SOFA agreement, security agreement.&nbsp; The strategic framework agreement is the basis for this and it's the one agreement that Iraq really looks to.&nbsp; That agreement can&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; really outlines the long term relationship between the United States and the government of Iraq.&nbsp; They want to have people, the Iraqi people educated in the United States.&nbsp; They want to learn from the United States.&nbsp; They want to learn how to develop their economy.&nbsp; They want to learn about our educational system, our medical capability.&nbsp; So by developing these strong bonds between our two countries at the national level I think will be very important in meeting our long term goals. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;You know, we have now&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Iraq put 4 million of their own money towards an educational program to college level&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; it's the Fulbright program, to send students all around the world, but many to the United States and Western Europe to study.&nbsp; This is the beginning of a very important relationship if you start to develop this over time. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Having a long term military relationship, one that's based on common understanding and respect for each other would go a long&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; long way in developing a strong partnership over the long term.&nbsp; And how we go about doing that is very important, that we're able to do joint exercises with the government of Iraq for years to come, and that will provide us a partner in helping them and helping us in order to develop long term security.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; What are the ways that the United States and the Iraqis each could actually work on implementing this strategic framework agreement more vigorously and aggressively than we are now?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Well, I think&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; I think first off what we're doing now is we've had&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; we've been able to keep it going and get it started.&nbsp; It's really now up to the new government of Iraq.&nbsp; Once the elections are over and the new government gets seated, it's about how we enable them to very quickly implement this agreement with the United States and that we are aggressive in working with the new government, bringing them on board, because they'll be the ones who execute this over the next four years. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So what we have to do is make sure we bring them on in such a way that they understand the Strategic Framework Agreement, we are very aggressive in the beginning of showing what the advantages are to the government of Iraq, and we see what the advantages are to the United States and really push this forward as we get all new ministers and all new leadership in Iraq.&nbsp; It's about getting their buy in into this, and I think we'll get it.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; I think we have time for a couple of questions from the media, and I'd like to stick on this theme of drawdown of U.S. forces on the one hand, but the long term strategic relationship between the U.S. and Iraq.&nbsp; Eli Lake.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;QUESTION:&nbsp; Eli Lake, Washington Times.&nbsp; Can you talk a little bit about the situation with the Iraqi National Intelligence Service that was created after 2003, and then how it is sort of transitioning into the other intelligence service that was created by the parliament, and will Iraq have two intelligence services, and how is that going?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; First they have the INIS.&nbsp; They have the DGIS.&nbsp; They have the Army intelligence.&nbsp; You have the Minister of Interior intelligence.&nbsp; So you have several different intelligence agencies, just like the United States does, I would add, working many different issues.&nbsp; What they've just established, though, inside of Iraq is the National Intelligence Command, which is now combining all of these Intel agencies together, and they all now feed into this element.&nbsp; It's been set up now for about three months.&nbsp; We are involved in that.&nbsp; We are helping them to set that up. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;It's one of the things that is important to Prime Minister Malaki, that their Intel agencies continue to improve, not only providing information, but providing targetable information that can be used by their security force.&nbsp; And so we're working with them very carefully. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Well, we have found over time that we are very much embedded with all their security forces because of the importance of human intelligence today.&nbsp; It's growing more and more in importance.&nbsp; They have a much better capability to do human intelligence in Iraq than we ever will have.&nbsp; And so we're working very carefully with them to help develop that capacity, and how you link that to all the other intelligence capacities that you can develop. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And so I'm confident that that's moving forward okay.&nbsp; We are working closely with them to develop this new National Intelligence Command center, so we think that's the right way to go.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; One last overarching question.&nbsp; John, do you promise that it's large and overarching?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;QUESTION:&nbsp; It's huge and&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; Excellent, wonderful.&nbsp; Then John Barry, Newsweek, you will be called on.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;QUESTION:&nbsp; General, greetings.&nbsp; Two huge and overarching questions.&nbsp; Iraq is&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Iraq has Iran on one border, but as you were obliquely referring to earlier, it has other big nations on&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; also on its border.&nbsp; Talk a little bit about that if you would, as one aspect of this.&nbsp; That is, is Iraq in danger of becoming a cockpit for a struggle by proxy between Suuni and Shi'a countries to its borders?&nbsp; My second question is&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; relates to the American relationship in the future.&nbsp; You talked about the scale of the U.S. Embassy that's building that.&nbsp; But what&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; how successful in your judgment has the civilian aspect of the U.S. relationship gone and how would you want to see&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; fairly specifically, how would you want to see the U.S. improve its civilian capabilities to help Iraq in future?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Yeah.&nbsp; First, I think what's important about first Iraq is getting out from under Chapter 7 of the U.N., which obviously&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; and that will take a lot of work.&nbsp; That's part of what we agreed to assist them with in the strategic framework agreement.&nbsp; So that would help with some of the neighboring countries.&nbsp; Obviously there's many issues that have to be worked with Kuwait, Iran and other countries. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;I think&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; one of the things that I would ask that they have to learn that I think needs to be improved is their ability to reach out to some of their neighbors, in a consistent basis and have a consistent dialog.&nbsp; And I think as they mature this time through, if they're able to do that, that will keep Iraq from becoming a battleground for the region.&nbsp; That's&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Iraq obviously fears that.&nbsp; They don't want that.&nbsp; That's why they're so&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; you see so many statements about respecting their sovereignty.&nbsp; That's what that is about.&nbsp; They don't want to see Iran, they don't want to see Saudi Arabia, they don't want to see the United States, they don't want to see any of these countries using Iraq to solve their problems.&nbsp; They want Iraq to be left alone to solve their own problems that they have to work their way through here over the next several years. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So I think one thing I would say is they have to do a better job of reaching out to all their neighboring nations on a very consistent basis.&nbsp; And I think if they do that, that could reduce tensions.&nbsp; And I think they know that and I think they'll go about doing that. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;In terms of the civilian capacity, you know, we have a real problem in the United States in our government because our civilian agencies aren't built to be expeditionary.&nbsp; And I think we have to come to the realization that we must build these agencies to be expeditionary, that we have to give them the resources necessary to do additional things in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in wherever.&nbsp; You can name it.&nbsp; Because, you know, if you don't give them that capacity then they have to make some very difficult choices.&nbsp; And so what it&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; and it's not just the State Department.&nbsp; It's&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; we get a lot of help from the Treasury Department.&nbsp; We get help from Homeland Security.&nbsp; We get help from the Justice Department.&nbsp; But they're limited in what they can do as well, because they still have their everyday job that they have to do. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;So it's easy for us to criticize that.&nbsp; We're built to be expeditionary.&nbsp; That's our mission, you know.&nbsp; So that's what we're&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; that's what we're here for.&nbsp; So what we have to do is build this additional capacity.&nbsp; The United States in my mind is going to be involved in this for a while and so we have to start building capacity.&nbsp; I think they have, in fact, this year added actually positions to the State Department for this for the first time, I think in the last budget.&nbsp; Those are the kind of things that I think we have to continue to do. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And then we have to continue to rotate the expertise through.&nbsp; It's one of the things we've learned and, you know, you go into Iraq, you come back to Washington.&nbsp; You work Iraq, then you go back into Iraq.&nbsp; You go to Afghanistan, you come to Washington.&nbsp; You work Afghanistan and go&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; because you got to keep&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; these are very complex, difficult issues and you got to stay in the game.&nbsp; And if you don't, you fall behind very quickly. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;You know, one of my biggest fears, and I'll just be upfront here, is when I&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; the reason I come back and try to do some of these things is I worry about those who left Iraq in 2006 and haven't been back.&nbsp; And they think they understand where Iraq is.&nbsp; I talk to every brigade and battalion that comes into Iraq, and the first thing I tell them is, &quot;When did you leave?&quot;&nbsp; I ask them.&nbsp; Some will say, &quot;Two years ago.&quot;&nbsp; Some will say, &quot;One year ago.&quot;&nbsp; Some will say, &quot;Six months ago.&quot;&nbsp; And I say, &quot;If it's three months ago, it's different than it was.&quot;&nbsp; Because it's changing so quickly.&nbsp; And so it's important to rotate that expertise out. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;That's why Kim is always bugging me about coming out all the time, because she wants to stay current, and that's important to stay current.&nbsp; You know, so&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; I mean, I think those are the two things that I would&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; if I could just&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; you're going to ask another question.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; No.&nbsp; I was going to ask you if there was anything left that you wanted to say before I have the final word, as I always do.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Yeah, okay.&nbsp; I'm very familiar with that, by the way so&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; I just want to close by saying that it's&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; I am one who believes in the young men and women of this country.&nbsp; I've gotten to watch it for seven years up close.&nbsp; I mean, I've been involved in the Army for 34 years almost now.&nbsp; But for the last seven years I've got to watch it up close and personal, the young men and women who are coming out of our society who choose to do what I consider to be the extraordinary, where&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; especially some that have done it two times, three times, four times, five times.&nbsp; And they do it for a lot of different reasons.&nbsp; But there's one&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; there's about three common reasons that they always have: that they have a bond with the person that stands to their right and left, that they have a love for their unit or their service and third, they have a love of their country and they think they're making a difference.&nbsp; These are great young men and women.&nbsp; They're smart, they're articulate.&nbsp; They've been able to understand the nuances of change and execute them on the run.&nbsp; We have an incredible young leadership coming up.&nbsp; I'm glad that I'm going to retire soon because I'll never be able compete with these young men and women who are coming up and the experiences that they've had. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;And so I would just say we have to&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; we really&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; be thankful for what they've been able to do.&nbsp; And I'll speak for Iraq, but I know in Afghanistan it's the same thing.&nbsp; And so I would just ask everyone to remember that as you go about your daily business here in Washington, that you think about these young men and women who continue to serve around the world and continue to do it for you and for many others because they think it will bring better peace and stability to the United States.&nbsp; So with that I will close.</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; General Odierno, I thank you so much for joining us at ISW today, for talking about your experiences in Iraq.&nbsp; But I also have to thank you very specially and from my heart for all that you have done within Iraq.&nbsp; I do think that it's&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; it's remarkable, the amount of time that you have spent in Iraq in such a variety of conditions from 2004 until now.&nbsp; And I don't think that it is possible to state the extraordinary quality of your generalship that you have been able to move through positions in an ever changing Iraq over the course of our entire engagement with Iraq, and be really on the cutting edge of what the United States needs to do next and where we as a military force should be headed.&nbsp; I am just floored by the flexibility of your thinking, your creativity and your ability to look forward, and I'm really glad that you were able to share that with us today.&nbsp; So thank you so much for what you do and for what all of the men and women at U.S. forces Iraq do for us today.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;GENERAL ODIERNO:&nbsp; Thank you.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; Thanks.<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;[Applause]<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;DR. KAGAN:&nbsp; If you all could remain seated, please. &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Thank you so much.&nbsp; I'll escort you.&nbsp; &nbsp;<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;[End of proceedings.]<br />
&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;* * * * *</p>

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CENTCOM in 2010: Views from General David H. Petraeus

CENTCOM in 2010: Views from General David H. Petraeus

Friday, January 22, 2010
 
Stretching from Egypt to Yemen, Iran and Pakistan, General David H. Petraeus commands the most challenging area of responsibility in the war against terrorism. In addition to deterring non-state aggressors, he also oversees the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
 
On Friday morning, January 22nd, the Institute for the Study of War held an on-the-record conversation with General Petraeus hosted by ISW President, Dr. Kimberly Kagan. General Petraeus discussed his competing regional priorities at U.S. Central Command and offered a strategic overview of his AOR, explaining the dynamic effect it has on American national security.

 

 

Transcript: 

INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF WAR

INTERVIEW AND MODERATED Q&A

WITH GENERAL DAVID PETRAEUS

 

January 22, 2010

 

Institute for the Study of War

1400 16th Street, N.W.

Washington, D.C.

 

 P R O C E E D I N G S

(10:05 a.m.)

          MR. SINGER: It's a pleasure to be here and to be able to participate in the Institute for the Study of War's outstanding program this year.

           In a sea of public policy research organizations, many of them doing important work, ISW is a much needed island. The reason is that very few institutions in American life are dedicated to advancing an informed understanding of military affairs.

           This is a task that was once done at America's colleges and universities, but many of them abandoned that task long ago.

           Under Kim Kagan, who received her Doctorate from Yale, taught at West Point, Yale, Georgetown and American University, and is an author, lecturer, and advisor to generals, she has stepped into the breach as the founder and leader of the Institute for the Study of War.

           She provides America's civilian leadership with impressive, unbiased, timely and fact based analysis. 

           ISW was founded on the principle that a healthy democracy requires civilian leaders who are well versed in military affairs, and every day it fulfills that task.

           For a nation at war facing challenges on so many different fronts, ISW is indispensable. I'm extremely proud to support Kim Kagan and the good work of ISW.

           I've been asked to introduce many people over the years, but few of them have achieved as much as our speaker today. 

           General David Petraeus assumed leadership of the United States Central Command in October of 2008 after serving for over 19 months as the Commanding General of the Multi-National Force in Iraq.

           His awards and decorations are too numerous to cite here. Suffice it to say that General Petraeus is an authentic American hero. A man of remarkable honor and valor, and one of the most important public intellectuals in our country.

           When he became the Commanding General in Iraq, that country was sliding into Civil War. It was caught in a death spiral. The conventional wisdom was that Iraq was broken beyond repair. 

           Under the command of General Petraeus, America adopted a new counter-insurgency plan, one that was focused on securing and winning over the population. The shift was deliberate and strategic and desperately needed to reverse the slide.

           We all know that the challenges in Iraq are still formidable, but we should all take note that without David Petraeus' wisdom and execution on the ground, Iraq would not be a nation on amend. 

           We are blessed with the greatest military on earth and the greatest military we have ever had in our nation's history. There is simply no substitute for that.

           No single individual deserves more credit than General Petraeus. Having performed what nearly qualifies as a miracle in Iraq, he has now been handed responsibility for important parts of our Afghanistan and Pakistan challenges.

           I know I personally take great comfort from the fact that David Petraeus is applying his skill and judgment to the complex issues and challenges in these two countries.

           It is my great privilege, truly great privilege, to present to you one of the bravest military commanders and one of the finest military minds America has ever produced, General David Petraeus.

           (Applause.)

          DR. KAGAN: Thank you all so much. Thank you, General Petraeus, for joining us today.

          GENERAL PETRAEUS: Glad to be with you. Can I respond to that, by any chance, is that possible?

          DR. KAGAN: You can.

          GENERAL PETRAEUS: Paul, thanks for an over the top introduction and very, very generous words. 

           I would remind you that it has always been about the team and teams of teams. It's great to see some of those members who are such heroes on the ground and in that team where indeed there were some big ideas that were used.

           I think a lot of people would argue, and I certainly would, that it wasn't by any means just the surge of forces. 

           In fact, far more important than the surge of 30,000 additional U.S. troops was the surge of ideas that helped us to employ those troops, and that surge of forces enabled the employment of the new ideas that were indeed the key to making the progress that has been achieved in Iraq over the course of the last three years.

           It was the team that took those big ideas outside the wire under Kevlar, under body armor, or led the organizations, as Jim Dubik did with the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq; Greg Goetz in leading the battalion where he was very seriously wounded, and a number of others. Colonel Burton.

           That was the key. Again, it was also many courageous Iraqi partners, and it's great to see somebody here from Iraq and our partners from all the different nations that made up the coalition of the Multi-National Force-Iraq.

           I would also add that again in helping to develop those ideas, I'd be hard pressed to say that there was any organization, other than perhaps the Center at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, certainly in the think tank community and the think tank world, no organization, I think, had the truly strategic impact that the organization did.

           At that time, Kim was in a different location, but the founder of the ISW guided together with Fred and a number of other heroes a study and analysis that did indeed have a strategic impact unlike that of any other study or analysis that I can think of.

           They came up with the rationale for the additional forces that were required, described how they might be used in Iraq, and then indeed, enlisted the help of some others, General Cain, most prominently among them, in describing all that, and then serendipitously ultimately made its way into the West Wing and ultimately even into the Oval Office.

           Again, I think it played a very significant role in helping to shape the intellectual concepts and indeed, in helping to shape the ultimate policy decision that was made that resulted in the additional forces and then enabled us to implement the ideas that were so key to their use in a proper fashion.

           Thanks for that, Kim. Paul, I want to thank you for all you have done to help them do what they are trying to do now and what they do so effectively.

           We were upstairs and we asked for a show of hands of who is now working on Afghanistan, and there was some great talent. Asked who was still focused on Iraq, by golly, we have to sustain that. Asked about Pakistan. They contracted out Pakistan. Sounds like the military here now, Kim. Don't become like us.

           (Laughter.)

          GENERAL PETRAEUS: I didn't get to ask whose hands would go up if we asked about Iran, but that might be another one, and perhaps Yemen as well and a few others. 

           With that, please, Professor Kagan.

          DR. KAGAN: Thank you so much, General Petraeus. Thanks for joining us today.

           We have a wonderful format of our conversation today, as we think about what is going on within CENTCOM and AOR, area of responsibility, that runs from Egypt to Pakistan.

          GENERAL PETRAEUS: I have a PowerPoint slide. We do have PowerPoint slides. She is not going to let me talk about, you know, that it is every Army Four Star General's inalienable right, there is a little asterisk in the First Amendment, that we all get to use PowerPoints, and a major pointer. I'll try to not shoot your eye out, Kim.

           (Laughter.

          GENERAL PETRAEUS: I understand I get extra credit for each question that I answer without resorting to PowerPoints, so I'll try to make minimal use of that here today.

          DR. KAGAN: Excellent. We are really glad to have you. I'm going to start the questioning, and as we move through, I will go to audience questions and particularly media questions that relate to the same things, so we can stay on topic and really probe in-depth some of the issues that face the CENTCOM AOR.

           Actually, I'd like to begin with something that can look like a new problem set to those of who have been paying attention to other things. I want to start with a discussion of Yemen.

           Can you tell us, to what extent do you see the rebellion in Yemen as a larger regional proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia?

          GENERAL PETRAEUS: I don't see it right now. I think there is some potential for that. We have looked very hard frankly for Iranian involvement with the Huti's, any provision of substantial amounts of weapons or money or direction or what have you.

           Frankly, although there is a lot of rumor, a lot of allegations and so forth, we have been hard pressed to find indications of substantial levels of that, although there have been some indicators in the past month or so that some of that is indeed beginning to happen.

           I really don't see that yet. I think there are folks that might want to make it into that. I think this is truly a case of Yemen dealing with individuals who are rebelling against the Central Government up in the border region with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Saudi's, understandably, are very concerned because indeed, there has been a lot of stuff that has come out of that region into Saudi Arabia before that has caused problems.

           They are really concerned about the broader challenges that Yemen faces with not only the Huti's in the north but the southern secessionists, along with the different social and political, economic and developmental difficulties that Yemen faces, and ensuring that Yemen hangs together.

           Of course, it was only unified a little over a decade or so ago by President Saleh after a very, very tough Civil War.

           In a lot of ways, Yemen was really sent from Central Casting, I think, as a location for extremist elements, the tribal nature of it, fairly conservative event of religion in certain areas and so on, and the dissatisfaction again with levels of services and opportunity and all the rest of that.

           Frankly, a number of us have watched this. We have been watching Yemen for over two years, well over two years. In fact, when I was in Iraq we were very concerned about Yemen because we were looking at where the foreign fighters were coming from and where the facilitators were located.

           A lot of lines, red lines, kept leading back to Yemen, especially as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was doing a very impressive job with a very comprehensive counter-terrorist whole of government counter-terrorist program as additional pressure was being brought to bear in the Pakistani border region with Afghanistan and indeed, as al-Qaeda in Iraq was under much greater pressure as well.

           In fact, when I went to CENTCOM, I said we're going to put a lot more attention on Yemen. I want an action plan, a country campaign plan. Indeed, we approved one of those in April of this past year. 

           Traveled there a couple of times. The first trip candidly didn't go entirely according to what we had hoped it would be. It was more along the lines of what Bud McFarland would recall from his days as frank and open conversations.

           The visit in July, on the other hand, was a literal as far as figurative embrace. That gave us what we needed together with the State Department to intelligence agencies to start building what ultimately enabled us when we saw the serious threats starting to emanate from Yemen to help with operations that were conducted on the 17th of December, 24th of December, and a number of other smaller ones that the Yemeni's conducted.

           Those operations took out two training camps, killed three suicide bombers, the fourth who was with those three was wounded and captured with his suicide belt still on by the Yemeni sensitive site exploitation team.

           A senior leader was killed and a number of others also were killed or wounded.

           That pressure has continued. I think it is known. I was in there on the 2nd of July as well, had a very good meeting, and illustrative, I think, of where we are, we were going to make that a secret meeting as was the meeting in July, until a month or so ago at least.

           I noticed there was a camera in the room. We left the big plane up in the Sinai, the sergeant major made a big show of going around the observers, I did sneak off, got in a smaller plane and went down to Yemen, spent a few hours down there.

           I noticed there was a camera in the room, in the meeting with President Saleh, and within an hour of leaving, it was on al Jazerra, indicating there was no reticence to show that he was meeting with again the Commander of Central Command and indeed, announcing that the reason I was there was to talk about how we could support them and assist them in the effort to deal with the growing al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, because they were franchised this past year.

           They went from being al-Qaeda in Yemen to al-Qaeda senior leadership recognizing them as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

           That is sort of how this has evolved, and the way ahead certainly has to be one that is again as always the biggest of the big ideas. In fact, it came out and was reaffirmed in the strategic assessment conducted by Central Command when I took command, the biggest of the big ideas about all this is it takes more than counter-terrorist forces to counter terrorist organizations, to deal with extremists.

           It really takes a whole of governments, with an "s" on the end, to a counter-insurgency kind of approach. That is really the appropriate way to go at this.

           In this case, thankfully, the Saudi's have a huge interest in it, enormous. A number of the other Gulf States, Oman and other countries, also have a huge interest in it.

           This is very important because again you must pressure al-Qaeda everywhere that al-Qaeda is located. You cannot hit here and have them pop up there. It can't be whack-a-mole, as we also did in Iraq for a while. You have to go after them everywhere and whack moles everywhere you can find them.

           We have to watch Somalia, by the way, as another place where there are considerable concerns, even though the senior leader of al-Qaeda in East Africa, Nabhan, was killed some months ago.

          DR. KAGAN: The Saudi's aren't a neutral player in Yemen. As you talk about regional aid, coming into Yemen and hoping to reinforce the state, what are the different interests that we have with our regional partners and how is it that we must mitigate for the differences in those foreign policy views?

          GENERAL PETRAEUS: Well, obviously, there is always a mix where you have some very much mutual interests and then occasionally there are some that are divergent. That's just again sort of the stated nature of this kind of stuff, if you will, and certainly the case in Central Command.

           It is one of those welcome to our world kind of observations.

           In this case, I think actually there is much more convergence than divergence. I think every country on the Arabian Peninsula wants to help the Government of Yemen to address the problems that exist, want to prevent the country from splitting in two or whatever, as it was for quite some time.

           Want to prevent the further growth of extremist elements that threaten all of them. Want to prevent migration of disaffected Yemeni's or even Somali's who make their way into Yemen, which is a huge problem, Somali refugee flow is an added challenge that Yemen has to face.

           I think as a general proposition, again, in terms of our interests and their interests, they generally are convergent.

          DR. KAGAN: President Saleh, I know he has been very forthcoming with you over the past six months, as you have described your meetings.

          GENERAL PETRAEUS: Among many others. Again, right after I went in the summer, John Brennan went in, the JSOC Commander went in. That was actually released as well, which was a surprise.  

          DR. KAGAN: President Saleh has supported elements within Yemen. Can you in fact rely on him to go after AQAT?

          GENERAL PETRAEUS: As always with policy choices, I think, typically it's compared to what, and compared to various alternatives, none of which have ever been presented to me or even remotely realistic or good, I think the course that has been adopted is the appropriate one.

           That is not to say there is not again U.S. and other countries in the region encouragement to move in certain directions or others, but in terms of the security threat, again, which I think has to be paramount here, in this case, now a security threat that has been shown to present a threat to our homeland, with of course the failed Detroit 25 December bombing.

           We know that individual was in Yemen. We believe he was there for several months. We know he left some time in the mid-December time frame, went to a couple of different countries, Africa, from which he finally flew to the U.K. and got on the flight to Detroit.

           We are pretty certain that the explosives were made for him in Yemen and he was trained to use them there, that he had contact with al-Awlaki, the Yemenian American who has been unhelpful, such a charitable figure in cyberspace, which is another great conversation topic.

          DR. KAGAN: Are there audience questions about al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and about Yemen? 

           Please. If you could identify yourself.

          QUESTION: Thank you, General. Thank you for making time for us.

           There are other Kagan's in this room who have argued and are somewhat critical of the Obama Administration policy towards Yemen. The argument being that we go to an ally and ask them please stop fighting your enemy and please start fighting our enemy.

           I wonder if we are being too hard on Saleh in asking him to strike some sort of peace chord with the Huti rebels, should be more accommodating to Saleh in helping him put down that Civil War, and if so, what can we do to be more accommodating towards him to help him put down his enemies?

           (Sound feed cut off.)

          GENERAL PETRAEUS: Again, that has been a topic of discussion. There is an understanding of the threat to Yemenian sovereignty and obviously to stability and so forth, especially in that area that is disputed.

           There has also been encouragement to at some point, at an appropriate point, to reach out to those who have been responding and saying get behind us, and either they are willing to accept the terms of President Saleh B- we will have to see where that process goes.

           It certainly has resulted in the displacement of probably hundreds and thousands. I think that is the source of the concern there and the reason for encouragement to be ready to accommodate at some point in time.

           These kinds of wars or conflicts don't always end with one side taking (Inaudible) at some point, there has to be some form of reconciliation. I think that has been the genesis.

          QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

          GENERAL PETRAEUS: Let me start by offering the observation that the best recruiting officer in most recent times for the CENTCOM, there is one, and it may not be a NATO like structure, but there is definitely a security architecture and there are milestones and so forth that continue to expand it.

           The best recruiting officer for that effort has been the Irani President, Ahmadinejad. His rhetoric, his actions, the continued missile program development, the nuclear program, the employment elements instilled in Iraq are still active, certainly after being defeated in March and April 2008, they are still there, there are still residual elements. Re-equipped and re-trained and so forth.

           This architecture is literally in a sense being fleshed out. Shared early warning, if you look at where we were a year or so ago -B we go through a process that we sometimes call bi-multi-lateralism, and what I mean is that you have bilateral arrangements.

           The United States works out a shared early warning agreement with a particular country, and then by integrating many bilateral arrangements, we achieve multi-lateral effects. 

           That has actually worked quite well. You see it not only in shared early warning but also in a variety of different ballistic missile defense endeavors in counter-terror activities, a common operational picture, and on and on.

           You also see it in substantially increased arms sales, frankly, by countries in the region. One country alone, for example, last year I think it was $18 billion. That is a serious amount of investment in a tiny little country who has an air force that is better than the entire Iranian Air Force, I might add.

           Again, Iran is clearly seen as a very serious threat by those on the other side of the Gulf front, and indeed, it has been a catalyst for the implementation of the architecture that we envision and have now been trying to implement.

           It also includes, for example, eight Patriot missile boundaries, two in each of four countries, that weren't there, U.S. Patriot boundaries that weren't there say two years ago.

           Other countries have certainly increased their Patriot's, a whole host of different systems, Aegis ballistic missile cruisers are in the Gulf at all times now.

           That is sort of the context in which this is playing out. I don't personally think that the concept of an NATO like organization is all that realistic, at least in near terms, and you have to remember there is some friction certainly to put it mildly between a number of the different countries.

           (Sound feed restored.)

          QUESTION: What role does Iraq play in the security of the Gulf region and in a Gulf region in which Iran is developing increasing power?

          GENERAL PETRAEUS: Well, the GO strategic position of Iraq couldn't be more significant I don't think. The recognition that again the extraordinary blessing's that it has, second or third most oil in the world, maybe the most if the exploration really gets going again.

           You see these enormous deals that have been consummated now which is very, very heartening. The fault lines that run through it, of course, between Arab and Kurd communities, between Sunni and Shia, and also a number of other minority, ethnic and sectarian grouping's in the society there.

           Just literally the position between in a sense what some have occasionally called the Shia crescent and the Sunni Arab world.

           It's hugely important to do all we can to continue to help Iraq get it as right as possible.

           It's an interesting observation, by the way. I had a question yesterday. Someone asked, what really was accomplished out of all this. It's a legitimate question.

           One of the accomplishments is that you have a country that touched wood, that right now of the 20 counties in the Central Command region, I think arguably, it is the most democratic. It's a very interesting observation that sort of smacked us in the forehead as we were thinking about this.

            It has a parliament that is representative of the people of Iraq. It is reasonably responsive to them. The fact that they know they have to face the electorate and all the leaders have to face the electorate on the 7th of March, it is very significant.

           It is why they have really taken on corruption, why they have worked very hard to increase electrical production, 1,400 megawatts added to the grid in the last 13 months alone, why they have raced now to finally get these oil deals done.

           I'm not saying they wouldn't have done all this on their own, but there is something about the prospect of having to face the electorate in the morning that does indeed give you some added incentives if you in fact want to retain your job and your position in a sense, political power and so forth.

           It's been very interesting, I think, to see how this has evolved. There was yet another political crisis last week with this supposedly defunct commission in its role as the Accountability and Justice Commission, for which it was not confirmed, but that hasn't stopped it. There are various accusations about what country is behind this and sort of pulling the strings and trying to mimic perhaps the Guardian Council activities in vetting candidates.

           There are over 500 candidates now. I think this is going to through. The Minister of Defense's name was removed from it. It was bizarre that the individual that played such a prominent role in the post-liberation of Iraq and who was imprisoned by the Ba'athist for six or seven years, and whose property was seized by the Ba'athist and everything else, but was at one time a Ba'athist and would be on that particular list.

           I think they are going to work through that again. There is an aspect of muddling through that does sometimes, I think, characterize Iraq's movement forward, but yet it does happen.

           There is often enormous emotion. There is drama. It's all at the 11th hour. Actually, it's beyond midnight typically. There is ultimately white smoke comes out of the chimney somewhere in the green zone.

           Again, touch wood that will all continue. Iraq is a country of just staggering potential. What we fought for was, of course with our Iraqi brothers and our coalition partners, to provide the people of Iraq a hope that potential could indeed be realized.

           I think it is more within their grasp and certainly much more than it was when the surge started and there were 53 dead bodies every 24 hours. Just think of that. Every 24 hours on the streets of Baghdad, just from sectarian violence.

          MS. KAGAN:  Has the new Iraq actually been accepted by its neighbors and by its partners?

          GENERAL PETRAEUS: You know, the short answer, the candid answer is probably no, but it's a mix. Some countries have very much sought to embrace the new Iraq. There are certain Gulf states that quite early were sending ambassadors and sending foreign ministers, even when the violence was very high, still taking considerable risk, to send those very prominent leaders in.

           Then there were others who still just couldn't come to grips with the idea that this formerly Sunni Arab led Shia country was now led by representatives of the majority in the country, by Shia Arabs.

           That was a seismic change. There is a very long view. You have leaders in some cases who have been in their positions for decades and don't jump right into something. To some degree, it's also on Iraq that it has to show that it deserves again an outreached hand or at least an ambassador.

           Now, having said that, if you look at the list of ambassadors that are now there, let's face it, Ambassador Crocker and I were sent in fact to do the tour of the countries in the region on the way home, and I think it was from the September 2007 testimony, and over time, and we have done it again and again, and of course, I've done it many more times as Central Command Commander, and one of the arguments that I have made is okay, I've got it.

           You don't like the Iranian influence that is in Iraq now. Well, do you really not like that. Oh, it's very disappointing. I say how about a little Arab influence then. When are you going to send your ambassador? When are you going to have a senior member visit there?

           Again, it takes two hands to clap or shake, putting an ambassador in a green zone.

           Over time, I think this is going to knit together. It does happen. Most recently, Kuwait, who has every right to be the most aggrieved of the neighbors of Iraq, given what Saddam did to Kuwait, of course, in 1990, Kuwait has now had sort of low key steps, but there are a number of different steps that have been taken by Kuwait that really add up to a degree of conciliatory policy that again I think points the way ahead and offers some encouragement for the way ahead.

          MS. KAGAN: Is U.S. engagement in Iraq important to ensure that Iraq remains internally peaceful and part of the international community?

          GENERAL PETRAEUS: Of course. It's hugely important, as I think it is in any country really. 

           You can argue about our status in the world but I think it's fairly difficult to assert anything but that the U.S. is the only super power in the world still, and the economy is still in multiple's, larger than any other in the world, despite all of the different challenges and down turn.

           Yes, as always, U.S. influence, U.S. leadership indeed is very important, but we have worked very hard to change the character of that from that in which the U.S. was leading activities in Iraq to one in which Iraq is a sovereign country.

           There is a big shift. You could feel the shift when the security agreement and the other agreement that was reached with Iraq after very tough negotiations in the Fall of 2008, when that was implemented in early 2009, and even more important when in July, we lived up to that agreement and removed our combat forces from Iraqi cities, and have increasingly supported Iraqi leadership, the Iraqi lead of security forces and operations, if not having turned them over completely to them in certain areas.

           That's not to say we are not working hard to provide assistance, support enabler's and all the rest of that, to share intelligence. There is a very good partnership.

           It's relatively rare now that an operation is carried out that was not based on an arrest warrant. Unthinkable probably three years ago when we launched the surge that you could reach that point and there would actually be a reasonable dependence on the rule of law.

           Again, I don't want to over state this, as we occasionally mentioned, it is Iraqacy, not necessarily democracy, but again, it is in that region still something that is quite unique.

           Certainly, there are challenges in the rule of law. Certainly, there are issues across the board and innumerable obstacles and events that should give rise to great emotion and drama.

           Again, the Iraqi leaders have generally, after some wrangling about, tended to figure out a path forward. Again, touch wood.

          MS. KAGAN: Are there media questions about Iraq? Eli? Eli Lake.

          QUESTION: Eli Lake, Washington Times. Was Qais Qazal's release part of a hostage exchange? And is he still dangerous?

          GENERAL PETRAEUS: No. His release was part of an overall effort led by Prime Minister al-Maliki and the Iraqi Government to reconcile with a group of that he led. His brother, Laith, was released earlier in that regard. In a sense, this was on the Shia side similar to what the Iraqi Government and we did with a variety of different Sunni elements during the course of reconciliation that did so much to help reduce the violence starting in the Spring of 2007 in particular.

           We did a reconciliation in Mosul in 2003. In fact, with Ambassador Bremer's express approval, as Dan will affirm. In the Summer of 2003, the Iraqi's, not us, we supported it, ran a reconciliation commission in Mosul. 

           It's very important to remember, Ambassador Bremer not only did de-Ba'athification, it was de-Ba'athification and reconciliation. In fact, in one of his final speeches in May 2004, he noted his disappointment that one of the tasks that he really regretted not being able to bring along further was indeed the reconciliation component of de-Ba'athification.

           Indeed, we submitted -B the Iraqi's submitted on our CH-47s, to Baghdad, literally boxes and boxes full of documents that supported their decisions, their recommendations, out of the reconciliation commission that was run there.

           By no means was it a whitewash or anything. It started off with Mosul University in which there were 110 or 120 of the tenured professors who were Ba'ath level four's or above, in part, you had to do that to get educated outside the country.

           By the way, these are folks in many cases educated in the West, in the United States, the U.K. and elsewhere, and generally somewhat secular, but had advanced over time to Ba'ath level four.

           The de-Ba'athification commission, which had been somewhat hi-jacked by certain individuals in Baghdad at the time, just slow rolled this. Gave a lot of assurances, visited Mosul, spoke very heartily, but did not in the end live up to the encouragement that they provided to us about this.

           Again, that is what Ambassador Bremer observed as well. Again, this is part of that. 

           There has been other reconciliation with other Shia militia or former militia groups as well, just as I mentioned with various of these Sunnian surgent groups.

          MS. KAGAN:  John Barry, did I see your hand?

          GENERAL PETRAEUS: Hello, John. How are you?

          DR. KAGAN: If we can have a microphone for John. On Iraq. 

          QUESTION: You mentioned tactically a question yesterday about what had been accomplished in Iraq. Could I tempt you to broaden it and attempt some kind of net assessment? I mean, looking back on Iraq, what would you count as the big pluses of the expedition and its aftermath, and what do you see, what are you living with, as any down sides of what happened in Iraq?

          GENERAL PETRAEUS: Well, you know, first of all, you've got to ‑‑ I think you've got to let history proceed a little bit further before you make any kind of definitive assessments. But, you know ‑‑

          QUESTION: Well, but you always do.

          GENERAL PETRAEUS: Well, no. I know. And nor do the Professors Kagan. So, I mean, I'll try to be a good student here.

           But, you know, as an interim assessment, as a, you know, work in progress, I mentioned that, you know, it has features of democratic governance that are again, I think, fairly unique in those 20 countries, from Egypt to Pakistan, Kazakhstan down to Yemen, and of course the waters off Somalia, so that we could keep the pirates.

 

           Beyond that, certainly I think that the threat that Saddam posed to his neighbors, needless to say, is removed. The kleptocracy that he used to lead is obviously gone, I mean. And it was not just an autocracy, it was a, you know, kleptocracy because he was also stealing from the Iraqi people. An incredible amount of stealing and, you know, an incredible way of running that country.

           I remember, in the early days, we used to ‑‑ we were trying to, of course, you know, resurrect different businesses and rebuild markets and repair infrastructure and all the rest. And it didn't take to long to figure out that there really weren't that many true private industries or private businesses or anything else that was truly private. 

           You might actually have a level that seemed to be private, but then it would actually ‑‑ very quickly, you'd find the link to Uday or Qusay or some other inner circle member of Saddam's regime. So that's obviously gone.

           And I think, you know, arguably, that's the most important accomplishment, assuming that the Iraqi people can indeed enjoy a much brighter future as a result of that, and that the work that is in progress there continues toward, again, a future that does indeed provide them better services, indeed, a continued form of democracy and so forth.

           Obviously, on the other hand, if you take it from the perspective of the Sunni Arab governments in the region, again, I think it's understandable to have some of the concerns that they have that there is, obviously, greater Iranian influence in Iraq. But then I'd also note that, look: Iraq has to have a relationship with Iran. 

           It is its neighbor to the east. It is a fellow Shia-led country, albeit one that is very conscious of its Arab identity and, you know, speaks a different language, has a different background, and is not at all desirous of being the 51st state of Iran.

           In fact, as we saw very recently, where you had Iranian military or border guards take over an Iraqi oil well inside the border, very clearly demarcated, the outrage over that was not just by Sunni Arabs or others. In fact, the most outrage was by Shia Arab tribal elements in the south.

           So again, I think that's sort of the texture of this. And I think you can actually say that, you know, within reason, life is better for, you know, quite a substantial swath of the Iraqi society and, touch wood, getting better as, again, basic services have gradually shown some improvement as this, you know, 1400 megawatts has been added to the grid, as ‑‑ and there's much, much more coming, and as now these multi-billion, multi tens of billions of dollars of oil deals have been struck, as you see the Kurdish regional government and the citizens of the Kurdish region of Iraq really pointing the way ahead to show what can be possible if you stop shooting and just, say, shout at each other instead of shooting.

           So, you know, that's sort of where I would put that, I think. And, you know, Iraq is not going to be the 51st state of the United States, either. And I think we have to be very realistic about that, and we have to recognize that this is a proud country with an extraordinary history, the land the two rivers, ancient Mesopotamia. 

           And we have to, again, be respectful in our dealings with our Iraqi partners. That is crucial to this enterprise, indeed. And we have to understand that they, like other countries, will on occasion want to show their independence of the great United States, despite all that we have done, indeed, to make it possible for those who are now in power to be exercising that power.

          DR. KAGAN: You mentioned Iraq's neighbor to the east. And I would like to turn now to Iran and ask you: What is Iran's regional strategy, and how is CENTCOM countering it?

          GENERAL PETRAEUS: Well, you know, since ‑‑ with Professor Kagan, you know, we should start off with a little international theory, I think. And if you think, you know, the international theorists ‑‑ I think I got this right ‑‑ you know, sort of divide the world into two camps. You know, you have the status quo powers and the revolutionary powers.

           The status quo powers are obviously sort of reasonably accepting of the way things are. And, you know, they might have a little more of this, a little more of that ‑‑ there's always going to be a quest for that ‑‑ but in general aren't out to completely upset the existing order; whereas revolutionary powers do not accept the status quo and are, indeed, intent on bringing about some significant changes.

           And I think, you know, that has some pretty big ramifications if you assess that Iran is not only revolutionary in the title of its country, the name of its country, but also, of course, in its activities. 

           And as you assess those activities ‑‑ again, as I mentioned, the provision of ‑‑ continued provision, maybe a smaller scale, of weaponry, training, equipment, money, and even direction to various Shia extremist elements, proxy elements, in Iraq that still cause problems for Iraq. 

           I mean, Ambassador Crocker, a great diplomatic wingman, during the surge used to assert that in a perfect world, Iran would like to Lebanonize Iraq. They'd like to have sufficient proxy elements that when something is starting to head in a direction they don't like, those proxies could launch a bunch of rockets or mortars or something else like that, and the Qods Force commander could call up and say, oh, my gosh, I'm so disturbed to see this is happening. We'll stop it immediately. But, of course, you know, we'd like to have one more vote in the council of this or that. So again, you have that activity there. 

           You obviously have the continued provision of all kinds of resources and weaponry and advanced technology and so forth to Lebanese Hezbollah, to Hamas, and, to a much lesser degree but still happening, to a lesser degree to the Taliban in western Afghanistan. Certainly the use of soft power wherever they can, as well, to compliment the various activities of the hard power.

           And now you have this complicating factor that Iran has gone from being, you know, if you will, a theocracy to what some pundits have described as a thugocracy, where because of the unrest in the wake of the hijacked elections this past year, the security apparatus has been able to grip even more of the power because the Supreme Leader has had to turn to the Revolutionary Guards corps, to the siege militia, and to the Qods Force far greater than before. 

           And that has enabled them to then expand their already considerable influence beyond just the security arena, but ever more greatly into the economic arena and even into the diplomatic arena. You know, in the middle of the battle with the militia in March and April of 2008, a message was conveyed to me by a very senior Iraqi leader from the head of the Qods Force, Kassim Suleimani, whose message went as follows. 

           He said, General Petraeus, you should know that I, Kassim Suleimani, control the policy for Iran with respect to Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza, and Afghanistan. And indeed, the ambassador in Baghdad is a Qods Force member. The individual who's going to replace him is a Qods Force member.

           Now, that makes diplomacy difficult if you think that you're going to do the traditional means of diplomacy by dealing with another country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs because in this case, it is not the ministry. It's not Mottaki who controls the foreign policy, again, for these countries, at least. It is, again, a security apparatus, the Qods Force, which is also carrying out other activities.

           So, you know, that's ‑‑ again, these are the dimensions of this, with now greater unrest in the country, I think it's safe to say unrest that is of more significance than at any time since the actual revolution itself, and seems to have more legs to it. 

           I mean, it seems to have an enduring quality where every anniversary or every additional milestone in the days of mourning after the death of a significant leader, or the other traditional national or religious celebrations, this unrest surfaces again and is posing enormous difficulties because it starts to create cracks in the edifice of the security structures that maintain order in Iran.

          DR. KAGAN: Speaking of those security structures, and indeed, of Kassim Suleimani and the Qods Force, have you actually seen a pattern whereby Kassim Suleimani, who seems to control a portion of CENTCOM for Iran, actually shifts resources from one theater to another, as the United States does?

          GENERAL PETRAEUS: Well, I think ‑‑ you know, I don't know if it's a shift of resources or occasionally a little less here, maybe more here, that kind of thing. I mean, there's no question that the level, we think, went down after the militia were defeated in March and April of 2008 in the battles of Basra, Sadr City, and a couple of other places.

           And so in the wake of that, I mean, they just did ‑‑ and the leaders, many of the leaders, went back to Iran. Many of the fighters went back to Iran. A number of others were killed or captured or detained.

           And it's never, I think, come back to the levels that the assistance reached prior to those particular battles. And I think Iraq is very sensitive to that. I mean, the Iraqis don't want their political decisions made under the threat of rockets of EFPs or what have you that have come from Iran. 

           Remember that prior to those battles, in fact, in the fall of 2007, two or three southern Iraq governors were assassinated and two or three police chiefs were killed by EFPs provided by Iran that were used in those particular attacks. And that was very well known by the Iraqi leaders, and then, needless to say, they more than resented that. They were very disturbed by that when, on the other hand, they'd have cordial relationships with the leaders.

           So again, there is the dynamic that's present in that case. I've seen a fairly constant level of support, I think, to Lebanese Hezbollah, to, again, Hamas ‑‑ although there have been interdictions of this, too, by the way, I should note.  I mean, this has by no means been easy for them to do in all cases.

           And there's a calculation you can see going on about, you know, what happens if you get caught in this. What are the down sides, and all the rest of that.

          DR. KAGAN: What is the likelihood that nuclear proliferation, should Iran become a nuclear power, would actually occur within the Arab world as a whole?

          GENERAL PETRAEUS: Well, I think that's one of the big concerns that, you know, strategic thinkers that hang out at places like this present, that if Iran were to get nuclear weapons, that some of its Arab neighbors would figure out how to get them as well.

           You know, you can ‑‑ again, you can head down this road. I mean, it's almost as if the wizards of Armageddon have, you know, a new reason to live here now after being somewhat ‑‑ you know, a lot of us were in grad school in the mid-'80s and all that period when, indeed, all of these discussions about various forms of deterrence and so forth took place.

           And, you know, you could sense some of that kind of discussion coming. But of course, there are also some substantial unknown out there. And, of course, the biggest is that a country in that region, not in the Central Command area but that feels that Iran poses an existential threat to it, that Iran has, you know, said it doesn't have a right to exist and has questioned the existence of, you know, the Holocaust and so forth, that indeed that country wouldn't stand by and allow Iran to have nuclear weapons.

           So again, you have those aspects of the situation out there as well. And I think ‑‑ I don't think this is on quite the same timeline as perhaps some do. It's a little bit ‑‑ you know, there's a little bit further to the right, if you will, to your right in terms of a timeline. But at some point over the course of this year or next year, there's going to have to be some very, very hard decisions made on these issues.

          DR. KAGAN: Let's take some questions about Iran.

          QUESTION: General Petraeus, Louis Clemente. I do have a question about Iran. And what is America's strategy to try and prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons? And do you think the Israelis may actually take action? I think that's what you were alluding to. If we don't do something, are the Israelis going to step in and say, enough's enough?

          GENERAL PETRAEUS: Well, first of all, of course, it's not just the U.S. strategy. It's obviously an international strategy. It's the actions taken by the IAEA, by the UN Security Council, with various resolutions to impose a whole variety of sanctions, a number of which are intended to make it much more difficult for Iran to get materials that could be used in various nuclear programs that could ultimately lead to the production of nuclear weapons, and also with some missile technology-related items and so forth.

           So I think, again, those are the big components, and so those have been the diplomatic economic elements that have been employed. You know well, I'm sure, that the Perm-5-plus-1 have recently had more discussions on the possibility of additional sanctions, and what form those sanctions might take, and so forth. 

           The IAEA has had additional conversations with Iran on whether or not there's a deal possible to take the more than I think it's a thousand kilograms of low enriched uranium that have been produced in Natanz and then send it to a third country for the production of somewhat more highly enriched uranium, but that could only be used in the research reactor that Iran has.

           That deal hasn't been struck. That could have an important stabilizing effect to it. And we'll just have to see whether Iran, you know, has any sincerity at all about pursuing that or is slow-rolling.

           But certainly, you know, the diplomacy has intensified. It has been complicated probably a bit just because of the preoccupation of Iran with its internal affairs. I mean, there are literally organizations within Iran that just, frankly, haven't met the way they used to, certain of the important Iranian security bodies and advisory bodies that help the Supreme Leader and so forth, because ‑‑ in some cases because of internal divisions among the senior members of these different groups. So that has made things more difficult, I suspect, as well.

           As to the latter part of your question, I mean, that's obviously, you know, something that only Israel can answer. Needless to say, there are communications with Israel on a host of different levels. 

           And indeed, a number of individuals, very senior individuals ‑‑ the Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and others ‑‑ have all pointed out the various ramifications, just in a general sense of what could result from strikes. And again, you know, who knows what the impact could be on the global economy or on infrastructure in the area or what have you. 

           So again, you know, we're sort of staring at some very, very difficult areas, the ramifications of which could be enormous for the entire world, not just for the region.

          DR. KAGAN: I'd actually like to turn the conversation to Pakistan and Afghanistan, and make sure that we have a little bit of time to talk about them.

          GENERAL PETRAEUS: Okay. Sure.

          DR. KAGAN: And Pakistan first. Have the Pakistani military operations over the course of the past year defeated the TTP?

          GENERAL PETRAEUS: Well, I don't know that you'd characterize it as having defeated the TTP and/or the other elements that are associated with the Pakistani Taliban. But they have certainly set them back very considerably.

           They cleared and have held Swat Valley, Swat District, really, the Malakand Division of Northwest Frontier Province. They've conducted important operations in Bajaur, Mohmand, and Khyber in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas; and then most recently, of course, about three or four months ago, launched an important operation in eastern South Waziristan, the tribal areas controlled by the extremist element that was led by the former Baitullah Mehsud, who was killed in the Fatah last year, a very important action.

           And that has put considerable pressure on, again, the Pakistani Taliban and some of its affiliates. It has been, I think, of enormous importance that we recognize this important development because until about ten months ago, I think there was generally an assertion by a number in Pakistan that the Pakistani military was being coerced into fighting the U.S. War on Terror.

           And somewhere around that 10 or 11 months ago, there was this significant shift in public opinion, the political leadership, even many of the senior clerics, that the Pakistani Taliban was becoming the most pressing threat to the very existence of Pakistan. And it was really supplanting even India, at least as the most urgent threat that needed to be dealt with.

           That is, again, a very, very significant shift, and it provided considerable support for the Pakistani Army and Frontier Corps as they launched the operations into Swat Valley after the extremists there had literally begun to encroach on the settled areas, as they're called, and to really threaten, again, the very writ of governance of Pakistan in a very meaningful manner.

           And the Pakistani Army and the Frontier Corps have carried out really quite impressive counter-insurgency operations. There are certainly limitations in the resources available to them. There are limitations in the governmental agencies and resources that they can bring to the rebuilding effort because, of course, it's not just clear and leave, it's clear, hold, and build, and even transition. And again, the Pakistani military's approach has been quite impressive.

           So I think all in all, they have shown quite a facility for carrying out these operations, a recognition that you have to hang onto what you fought to clear. You know, the act of taking over that area of eastern South Waziristan, where there was so much infrastructure that contained explosives, and IED factories, and car bomb factories, and arms and ammunition storage sites, and planning locations, training facilities, all the rest of that ‑‑ that's not in their hands now, in TTP's hands. It's in the hands of the Pakistani Army.

           They may be able to reach a deal that allows the traditional tribal elements to return to that area less those that were part of the extremist forces that had hijacked those tribal areas that also, of course, were engaged in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, blowing up the Marriott Hotel, blowing up a visiting cricket team, and innumerable innocent Pakistani civilians in Peshawar and Pakistani officials and so forth. 

           So this has been a very significant development, but again, very much a work in progress, to be sure. And certainly there are numerous other extremist elements that threaten Afghanistan and our forces and efforts there that, over time, we want to see, of course, additional pressure brought on as well, even as there are other campaigns that are pressuring the leaders of those organizations very significantly, too.

          DR. KAGAN: As we talk about those organizations based in Pakistan or with bases in Pakistan, of course, Al-Qaeda Central comes to mind, and one of the things, one of the dynamics that we've seen very much on the -- throughout our fight in Afghanistan and throughout our fight in Iraq is that Al-Qaeda has a better apparatus for distributing information to the populations of -- of Afghanistan, of Iraq, than we do.

           Do you have the authorities that you need and the capabilities that you need actually to counter the information operations campaign of Al-Qaeda globally or in -- or its affiliates in areas where we're fighting against insurgencies?

          GENERAL PETRAEUS: Let me go back to Iraq and talk about some very important lessons that we learned there and as you go after an organization like Al-Qaeda in Iraq and the other semi-extremist elements that were its confederates, you had to have again a very comprehensive approach.

           Again, you don't just deal with them just with your high-end Special Ops or even your conventional forces. You have to get host nation forces. You have to do politics. You gotta get laws and legislation and promote reconciliation and generate Sons of Iraq and you have to get smarter about how you fuse, gather and fuse intelligence. You have to deal with detainee operations so that extremists aren't running your training camps and then you have to help the host nation deal with the basic reasons why individuals might be prone to extremism in the first place: lack of adequate education, basic services, health, opportunity, and so forth, and then work on the source countries and the way foreign fighters can flow into the country. But a huge element of this is information operations.

           Now, this is not propaganda. This is living within the admonition that was part of our counter-insurgency guidance that was titled Be First With The Truth and that's what we sought to do and we tried to operationalize that concept.

           We didn't lie to folks like Al Gordon. We tried to provide him the honest facts as we knew them. We sought to expose them. Yeah. Sure. We'll let him see some good news stuff, but, I mean, we weren't trying to pump it to him and he saw some plenty of bad news stuff, too, and when we had bad days, we went out and said we had a bad day, here's what we're trying to learn from it and how we'll try to mitigate the chances of it in the future.

           But we also had to build a structure that could carry out a true information operation campaign plan and this is strategic communications. It's providing content for radio, television, print media. It is having a rapid-fire channel, if you will, so that if someone sees a story in the news, you can respond very quickly.

           It's not unlike what political campaigns have with perhaps the lack of some of the spin that occasionally might characterize political campaigns. I'm sure in other countries, not in ours.

           (Laughter.)

          GENERAL PETRAEUS: And so we set about building a very substantial structure and we did. We combined all of the capabilities and aspects of our military information support teams in CYOPS elements. We used Public Affairs, certainly kept a distance from some of those -- the information operations elements that are now part of our structures, did a fair amount of contracting of various folks in that kind of business, and -- and again this made a big difference because, over time, as the extremists carried out various activities, we were able to hang around their neck three labels. 

           Those labels were indiscriminate violence, extremist ideology, and also oppressive practices. Now think about that. The indiscriminate violence, they blow up an innocent -- bunch of innocent civilians in a market. We immediately hammer them with that, ideally through helping Iraqis to do that.

           The oppressive practices. They cut the fingers off somebody smoking in Anwar Province and, boy, that's a great one to, you know, Sunni Arabs know that they just lost their inalienable right to a cigarette. That is a great one.

           That's when I knew we might be able to turn this thing around, you know. Al-Qaeda had done something so stupid as that or forced marriages or a variety of other things.

           And then just the sheer extremism that did indeed characterize their ideology and so that was done, though, you know, again this wasn't luck. It wasn't serendipity any more than reconciliation was, I might add. It was done with, you know, an explicit campaign. It took us well over a year to truly build this organization and I should tell you that we're now doing the same thing in Afghanistan.

           It is not pure coincidence that Rear Admiral Greg Smith, who came to Iraq, I think, for three weeks and ended up staying for 18 months, thanks to Admiral Mullen, then as Chief of Naval Operations, now the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who then, not coincidentally, of course, came to Central Command, and who now is in Afghanistan, and Rear Admiral Greg Smith is helping to establish this overall information operations task force that will endeavor to do in Afghanistan what we sought to do in Iraq.

           We're also trying to replicate some of that at Central Command, Headquarters. Obviously, it takes resources. We're working through that in Washington. Again, those who, you know, bemoan the fact that our message doesn't seem to get out sometimes -- by the way, again, it's a truthful message. This isn't spin. It's not propaganda.

           But those who, you know, are frustrated that it's hard to operationalize the concept of Be First With The Truth, then also have to come to grips with the fact that it does take resources to do that. There's a very impressive Under Secretary in State now for Public Diplomacy, a woman who really helped with the discovery of not just the channel but the corporation become all that it has become who -- with whom we are partnering on this, as well, because certainly we very much want to do this as a -- as an interagency, as a whole of government effort.

           And now, then when -- so that's the first element of it, but that is in the traditional communications media.

           There's a new battle space now and it is, of course, cyberspace and I think that as a government, we are very much still coming to grip with the policy issues, the, you know, areas in which legislation is needed, oversight, and resources to come to grips with the challenges in cyberspace and to ensure that the extremists don't have free reign in cyberspace.

           This is, of course, why Secretary Gates, needless to say, has promoted the idea of a CyberCommand with -- and has nominated a commander of it to be initially a sub-unified command under Strategic Command, very important initiative.

           In all, we've had some very good discussions among all the combatant commanders and Joint Chiefs with the Secretary just in the course of the last week or so, actually, and so that is, you know, for -- I mentioned to some university audiences recently, you know, if you're looking for a great thesis or dissertation topic, cyberspace and activities in it, while protecting again the inalienable rights that we recognize and codify in our Constitution and Bill of Rights and so forth, but also ensuring that we can protect the American people from security threats which can be generated and aided and abetted in cyberspace.

           Indeed, I mean Anwar al-Awlaki has, you know, how did he attract Major Hassan's attention? I mean, it was through cyberspace. How presumably did he link up with the Detroit bomber? Probably again through cyberspace, and there's no question that there's a lot of command control, a lot of literally proselytizing and sharing of lessons learned, discussions of tactics, techniques, and procedures for extremism activities and so forth, all taking place in cyberspace, and we have to figure out how to come to grips with that and over time I'm sure that will be the subject of legislation and a lot of policies.

          DR. KAGAN: One last question about Afghanistan. As we go into the London Conference next week, we have begun to hear much talk of reintegration and perhaps reconciliation of enemy groups within Afghanistan.

           Don't we have to win first?

          GENERAL PETRAEUS:  Well, I think that -- let's define here what we're talking about because these terms are a little bit new for Afghanistan. They're a bit different from what -- the way they're employed in Iraq.

           Reconciliation in the Afghan context typically means senior Taliban leaders, commanders, even Mullah Omar, reconciling with the Afghan Government, agreeing to lay down their arms, agreeing to become again part of the process in a constructive manner rather than a continuing part of the problem.

           And reintegration of reconcilable elements of the Taliban and other extremist elements operating in Afghanistan is indeed just that. It is more junior members of it, sub-commanders and so forth, and actually we see examples of this, you know, on a fairly regular basis in Afghanistan and, of course, the more there is pressure on them.

           Again, a lot of people talk about the, you know, positive incentives for reconciliation or reintegration. There are also, you know, some other -- you know, you bring them about by what they see as negative actions, of course.

           I mean, there's no greater incentive to reconcile than the fact that, you know, you might be killed if you don't reconcile. So one of the reasons reconciliation started to -- to -- to gain progress in Iraq, among a variety of others, was that, indeed, there was greater pressure on those who were even tacitly or actively involved with the extremist elements with Al-Qaeda and its affiliates.

           And so you're exactly right. I mean, why would senior members of an insurgent movement come to terms or reconcile if they think that they are in the resurgent mode as opposed to under enormous pressure and certainly one of the objectives that we have for this coming year is to put the kind of pressure on the senior members and on the junior members, as well, so that there can be certainly reintegration and perhaps the prospect for some true reconciliation as it's defined for Afghanistan, although that probably is a bit more remote than the very likely possibility that there will be a continuation of what we have seen and that being the reintegration of lower-level members of the Taliban and the other groups.

          DR. KAGAN: General Petraeus, thank you so much for spending time today with the Institute for the Study of War, and thank you so much for your service to the United States, to our security, and to our Armed Forces.

          GENERAL PETRAEUS: Well, thanks, thanks for yours, as well, Kim, and thank you all very much. Thanks.

        (Applause.)

 

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