Lt. Gen. Odierno Interview with Gail McCabe - Transcript of LTG Odierno's Side
February 4, 2008
We've had some success in 07 by reducing the capabilities of al quad and we want to continue to pursue him throughout the country as an org and were doing that now and not allowing t rest and were trying to eliminate all the sanctuaries and safe haven and so initiating this op and were containing to pursue throughout Iraq
First what it was it was all about protecting the pop started because of significant rise in sectarian violence in end 06 we believed to made decisive effort against that we needed more forces so we surged into Baghdad where majority of violence abut protecting pop bringing security to pop and when sure force we did that they gave up passive support to al queda and now rejecting throughout country
We had to clear every area difference this time because of increased force.... we stayed in muhallah once cleared. With enough combat force not allow taking back and that made difference
There was about 165,000 coalition forces and inside Baghdad there was close to 40k Iraqi forces and still about that level doesn't not include ip 20-30-k.
At end of dec 07 we had lowest amount of attacks since o4/05, ied down, civ casualties at lowest in 2 1/2 years in dec second lowest coalition kia rate, since 03...decline in violence decline in attacks overall in Iraq
I'm ok with it, what I worry about there is a window and we need political progress to maintain the window and if don't the pop will feel they have no where to turn I don't know what will happen then that makes this a tentative gain right now unless you have pop behind you wont maintain security
They absolutely are having impact here bottom line they for first time felt secured enough to fight aq and they choose. They choose they'd rather work with c f than with aq. They want to be part of future of Iraq they want to recognized by gov of Iraq and that why reconciliation effort is so important ultimately they want to be recognized by gov of Iraq and be part of future
What happened once you give security it now next step which is basic success rebuilding country be part of future which is reconciliation and then the returning of people from Syria we are seeing in varying degrees, we are seeing return of idps at slow rate I think much greater rate we are starting to improvement in basic services but still much to be done by mainly by gov of Iraq as we slide across spectrum we are moving from majority of lethal ops in beginning of 07 to majority of no lethal ops in beginning of 08
In the beginning there were reports they wouldn't fight. They are fighting they are staying they are fighting bravely taking causalities about 80% of btns are capable of doing planning and executing that sag improvement still need help in logistics maintaining, distributing...they are getting better, still not where not need so take more time yet
First of all when came to surge the learning point was we decided to push out into pop the learning curve was doing appropriately, 24/7 presence, constantly walking at all levels. We learned that we improved that we got more into neighborhoods with surge...out with pop we learned very successful tactic and today still push.... we find interaction with pop, you gain confidence and trust and they give info. More accurate info
I thin k it depends each area of Iraq is different locally if feel safe they feel moment forward they will continue to support us if rejected by gov I believe that will be turning point on what decision they make.
Number one secure the pops that is everything and that doesn't mean we have to do it, you can with ia, ip, once secure it opens many doors for reconstruction and reconciliation and many other avenues which will get us over the top in moving this gov forward.
It is complex environment its about military capabilities and able to do what not before reaching out and taking chances with reconciliation, reaching out to groups fighting against us at one time working closer to Iraqi government and pushing them to do more, working side by side at provincial level and below encouraging to improve capabilities combination of all those things
The reason we are where we are is soldiers and marines. I go out 4-5 times a week. They've moved in neighborhoods, when soldiers go downtown, they know by name...they ask where is SSgt p, is he ok, that's relationship has been built and that is what has fundamentally changed and also doing side with ia and ip where the pop is gaining confidence as security force that significant gain.
It depends on how turns out if Iraq becomes a real contributor in middle east with democratic government with peace and stability as an ally of us, you'll see 2007 as turning point in Iraq still lot of work to be done by Iraqis and we have to support we have to have patience to move fwd and if we do that we will be successful
We have the best soldiers and marines ever. Their selfless sacrifices, families are incredible and do this voluntarily...what most happy about this year they see difference they made they understand what they've seen and it important we must remember sacrifice of lives lost and injury not gone in vain were also there for them and were here sacrificing not in vain
I would just say I think this is right thing to do on many levels for our country provide stability and eventually protect us against future terrorism. Its right for Iraqi people 99% want to move fwd and good life for children they have sacrificed and been resident and we owe to them its worth our while its important we keep us with this also thank American people they also give sons and daughter and wave spent a lot on money here and they realize they re part of this
Over here we got to move forward its not over we have lot of threats, aq, extremists, we got to stay after them while rebuild country and government push government to move fwd and unify with all Iraqis, those the thing that if not happen could derail the sacrifice and progress made this year
I want to thank the families and sacrifice...we don't think a lot about them but they are incredible people who sacrifice a lot for their country and they are real patriots as well.