|Updated: 11-Oct-2004||NATO Speeches|
8 Oct. 2004
on next step in implementing training in Iraq by Lieutenant General David Petraeus and Major General Hilderink
JAMES MODERATOR (Moderator): Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming, and thank you for coming on relatively short notice, but we knew you were interested so we're glad to see you arrive.
As you know, earlier today NATO ambassadors approved the concept of operations for enhancing NATO's assistance to Iraq in the area of training and equipping Iraq's security forces. The gentlemen leading this effort are sitting to either side of me. Major General Hilderink, as you all know, has been leading the training implementation mission in Iraq since the day it hit the ground…
MAJOR GEN. KAREL HILDERINK: Somewhere mid August.
MODERATOR: …mid August, and got the ball rolling, took the teams in and began setting up the programs that are currently already delivering training to headquarters-level personnel. Today's decision by the North Atlantic Council sets the stage for the development of the operational plan and rules of engagement that will be approved by the North Atlantic Council, and that will be the final step in designing what the alliance is going to do in terms of enhancing the mission.
The CONOPS agreement also made one major change, and that was to put in charge of NATO's training mission in Iraq Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, who is sitting next to me here. Gen. Hilderink, as of just a few minutes ago, will be his deputy. They will each speak to you for a couple of minutes about, in Gen. Hilderink's case, what he has done until now; in the case of Gen. Petraeus, where he sees NATO's training mission going under his leadership.
So, let me very quickly turn the floor over… I think, chronologically, it probably makes more sense…
LT. GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS: Absolutely.
MODERATOR: …over to Gen. Hilderink. General.
HILDERINK: Thanks a lot, James.
Well, first of all, let me introduce myself. My name is Karel Hilderink, Royal Netherlands Air Force, and I have been given the honour to command the NATO training implementation mission in Iraq since mid August. And that came quite unexpectedly. I was not working for NATO. I was minding my business at the Royal Military Academy on that moment, but I got this request and, after some consultations with my wife, I decided to accept it, which meant that about 10 days thereafter I found myself, together with my MA, in a helicopter above Baghdad, and something completely unexpected happened to me, because I was expecting complete darkness.
was expecting to come into a war zone where no civilian things or nothing that could make like comfortable would exist, which… and that was not true. It was like flying over Amsterdam. All the lights were on. Later on I found out that in many areas the water supplies were all good, and it was really surprising to find out that. It was a bit in contradiction with what I had expected. What I had expected, of course, I got from the newspapers and all that, and this was slightly different. Well, anyway, it made me feel more comfortable.
We came on the ground and, two days thereafter, we started training. We started training… and we could so do because I had in my team some very experienced trainers that could do… that could provide training by mentoring officials, Iraqi officials, at a strategic and operational level -- for instance, at their ministry of defence, at their national joint operations centre -- and we could advise them there.
There is always very big problem in that. I'm very much aware of that. If you do a thing like that and you are a training mission, you must be sure that you are not getting involved in actual combat operations. But we made sure of that and we were providing training and advice for them to have a better understanding of what has to continue, what has to be the case, what has to go on in a command and control centre. We mmediately started that.
The second thing we had to do was develop a plan. There were already missions from NATO there before ours, and, based on that one, we developed a plan. How did we do that? We… First of all, there is only one who can decide whether the plan… one institution that can decide whether the plan would be a good plan, yes or no, and that in fact for this mission is not NATO, it is not the coalition, it is not MNF, it's even not, sir, your other command, MNS-DCI. The only ones that can decide whether it is a good plan, yes or no, is the Iraqi interim government, and nobody else.
Now, that was the first thing we said, which meant that of course we had to liaise very closely with them, and they were very receptive for that. There were no difficulties whatsoever to get in contact with the minister of defence, the minister of interior and all other officials, and they have been very, very much working with us; we advising them and they making the decisions, and then we again trying to get that decisions into actual actions later on.
So, that was the second thing we did. Now, of course, we also had to work together with the MNF and the MNS-DCI; with the MNF because we are only a small group and we were depending on transport, on supplies, on food, on offices, on a place to sleep and whatsoever from the MNF, and they have supported us tremendously; and with MNS-DCI because Gen. Petraeus' people were also doing training there, they did a certain part of training, and we were trying to find out whether, if all that training is there… because there is even a third one I forget. A lot of individual nations are providing training there, so what could NATO add to all this training? We were trying to find that out.
We found out that much of this training was actually up to the tactical level. It was unit training, it was shaping units for the future and up to the tactical level. We were providing training for the leadership, for the people who are going to be in command and control, and advising on them for the short-term (for the ones who are doing that now), and for the longer term the idea came up by establishing in the future a training and education and doctrine centre. And we found a place for that. SACEUR has agreed on it, on the proposal, that the place could be Ar Rustamiyah.
How did we find the place for that? Because the Iraqis want it to be there. That's the only reason why it should be there. It used to be their old military academy, raised by the United Kingdom in the '20s, and in fact today is (not on NATO's initiative but on the initiative of the MNS-DCI) the day that the first officer cadets, the first future second lieutenants are sworn in on that academy.
That academy can develop itself into a centre of excellence for the future
where concentrating on the education and training for middle and senior
level officers. Now, if you have that… and then again there it will be
under Iraqi command. The current commander of the academy is an Iraqi.
The current commander already from the staff courses is an Iraqi, and
we are again having a full colonel and a few people with them to assist
them, to advise them, and to offer them options among those they can
Sir, it's to you.
PETRAEUS: Well, let me start off by saying that, for much of the 30 years I've spent in uniform, I've been associated with NATO units, NATO training, NATO operations, most recently as the ACOS OPS for S-4 in Bosnia. I started as a lieutenant down in an airborne battalion in Italy where we got to jump with all of the different NATO nations. I'm the son of a Dutchman, which helps me relate to now the deputy of the NATO training mission. And, with all that background, I must say it's a great honour to take on these new responsibilities as the commander of the NATO training mission in addition to the command of the Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq.
I want to note what a great job Major Gen. Karel Hilderink has done as the commander of the NATO training implementation mission up till this point in time, and his deputies, in particular Major Gen. James Short from the U.K. army who was his wingman in this endeavour. They recognized immediately that there was a need not only to assess on their arrival in Iraq but to immediately begin assisting with the mentoring of the joint headquarters of the ministry of defence with the advising of the operations centres, and then immediately identified gaps… and we agreed upon gaps that existed in what we were already doing, which is a very, very substantial endeavour indeed involving the assistance to the Iraqis.
And I want to underscore "assistance", because what we are doing and what the NATO mission has and will do is help Iraqis, not do it for them. We are in fact assisting the Iraqis already with the… in my other command we're the organization training, equipping and building infrastructure for all Iraqi security forces of the defence and interior ministries. It's already 240,000 or so in uniform and will expand a good bit over that.
The contribution that the NATO training mission will make will be substantial. It is far more than just augmenting what it is that we are already doing. As I mentioned earlier, it is actually filling gaps in that effort. We have already, for example, helped the Iraqis re-establish their military academy. We were not able, however, to help them re-establish their staff college or their war college or however they want to conceive them, because, at the end of the day, the decision is theirs as to how they structure their professional military education system, and indeed everything that they are doing, and the NATO training mission will take the lead in this endeavour as it will also take the lead in the establishment of a training, education and doctrine command for Iraq, something again that the Iraqi ministry of defence and military officials very much want to do and need to do.
So, there are gaps there. NATO has already also established the NATO Training Equipment Co-ordination group right here in Brussels, in this headquarters, that will also assist with the co-ordination of the contributions of nations should there be those on the equipping side.
But, all in all, we're very enthusiastic about this, and I think it's really a very good and reassuring moment for the interim Iraqi government, interim Iraqi security forces, and indeed the Iraqi people at a time when they are very keen and very eager to shoulder more and more of the responsibility for security tasks in their country, to have NATO support that effort in this way with the establishment of the NATO training mission now with the approval today of the CONOPS which will then go forward to the development of the Op plan and so forth.
Having said all that, I think we'd be open to questions.
MODERATOR: If you could please identify yourselves.
Q: Tara Qatmud(?) from the Middle East News Agency.
PETRAEUS: First of all, in terms of… I'm not going to get into numbers right here today, other than to say that I think everyone is agreed that there will be in the order of several hundred trainers. Beyond that, SHAPE and we and others will develop what the structure will be that will support that logistically, secure it as required, and all the other parts of such a mission that will add up to the final number, but we're not prepared to give that final number right now.
And then, on the rules of engagement, what we've seen so far is very adequate to ensuring the security of the forces of NATO that will be engaged in this operation. They will not be going out and conducting offensive operations. They will not be engaged in advising Iraqis on operations. They will be engaged in training, mentoring and assisting the Iraqis, not carrying out operations.
Q: Inga Malandara(?), Atlantic News. I'd have two questions. First of all, coming back on the numbers, you say several hundred trainers, but how many people can we expect as to provide the security of the trainers…
PETRAEUS: Again, I think I answered the question earlier about numbers, but that was a nice try. Thank you very much.
As to the augmentation of the existing mission, what we discussed with the NAC this morning and then in a subsequent working meeting with members of the military committee is the possibility of augmenting what is already ongoing even as the Op plan is developed so that there's a steady increase in the capability of the NATO training mission. It is needed. Iraq is in fact in a race, if you will, to develop its security forces in time for the elections at the end of… late January, and it's important that this capability be provided to them as soon as possible.
Q: Paul Ince(?) from the Associated Press. There has been some doubt expressed by officials in Washington just yesterday, I think, about whether NATO can actually move ahead with this by January, by the end of the year, ahead of the elections. I was wondering if you had your opinion on that. And, also, could I ask you about… maybe give us some idea about… some indication of what this site is like. I understand that it was damaged sometime during the war. Is it ready right now for NATO to move into?
PETRAEUS: Let me first of all just say NATO has already been contributing, so I'm not sure what you're referring to there. Again, to the great credit of Karel Hilderink and James Short and the others that were part of the NATO training implementation mission, the first rotation if you will, they immediately assessed the need to assist in certain areas, initially to augment what it was that the Multinational Security Transmission Command Iraq was doing, and then in fact to start filling holes and to plug gaps. They've done that very, very well already. They will continue… we will continue to do that. And, as I mentioned earlier, as nations and commands… NATO commands can contribute additional staff members, we will incrementally expand the impact that this mission will have in terms of contributing to the development of Iraqi security forces, in particular contributing to that level that is above in many respects what it is that the Multinational Security Command Iraq is doing.
What was the second question again? I'm sorry.
Q: To have some idea about the condition of the site.
PETRAEUS: We envision that NATO would most likely have a headquarters within the international zone (in fact, we've already been given a building for this purpose) and then that the training, education and doctrine command and most likely the military… the military academy certainly, and most likely the staff college and war college would be located at Ar Rustamiyah, which is a very, very large compound, former military compound on the outskirts of Baghdad. This has already been under reconstruction for some months. My other organization has put tens of millions of dollars worth of reconstruction effort into it already. That's what enabled the military academy to resume its operations, and, as Karel mentioned, the cadets were sworn in today in fact. That's a significant advance, in fact, for, again, the Iraqi military.
Over time, the facilities for the staff college, the war college, the other parts of this training and education and doctrine command will be rebuilt as well, and repaired. Again, you need to picture a very, very large military base of multiple- brigade size to picture Ar Rustamiyah. It's also contiguous to a coalition base. There's a lot of room, a lot of space, and a lot of buildings there that are being rehabilitated and will make ideal locations for these various activities.
HILDERINK: As we inspect the Ar Rustamiyah site, there is a lot of things that indeed have been looted and all that, so they can hardly be used, but the main issue of it and the possibilities there are enormous. Part of it is already, as Gen. Petraeus said, is under reconstruction, and for the rest the plans are currently developed. In fact, there is… this month is coming in a survey team, a NATO survey team who is going to expand on the initial work that was done on it, and there is already work done with regard to the proposals for to get the necessary money for the infrastructure.
And we also… and this is one of the nice things from this site and the fact that MNS-DCI has been working on that as well, because the… again here, the infrastructure that is set up by MNS-DCI and that will be set up by NATO are complementary to each other. Part of the buildings can be used for both goals, either for the training… for the initial officers training or later for the staff courses, which I believe makes it a very efficient way of how to spend resources.
PETRAEUS: Sure. What we both told the NAC this morning, and told the military committee and also told the SHAPE planners yesterday is that our expectation is that the Multinational Force Iraq will provide the same level of force protection for the NATO training mission in Iraq that it provides actually for the Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq, which is to say area protection, protection if you're inside one of their compounds (which in fact the headquarters would be), complementary protection when, for example, counterfire(?) radar covers the position and so forth, integration into larger convoy security operations, but not close-in protection, not protection for smaller movements, and not the immediate force protection for a discrete base or compound, as likely will be the case at Ar Rustamiyah.
Again, all of this will be developed in much more detail as the process goes from a CONOPS to an Op plan and this is worked out, and, frankly, that's why right now it's just very hard to tell you a specific number beyond that of the functional piece of this, to get into the logistics and so forth. It also has to do, to a large degree, with how the support will be provided by NATO, and that again is something that we have to work out with them; how much of it will be contracted versus provided by military forces, and so forth.
Q: Dan Domby(?), Financial Times. You've given us a sense, of course, of a different focus of the NATO mission to the extant training mission. I just wanted to see if you could give us a sense of the different scopes of the two, because one of the things that I find difficult is to convey the idea of the budget or the number of people being trained by the multinational force, by the transition command. Can you give us that sense of the budget involved in the current training, or… yeah, the current training, the budget and the numbers of people? And then, just to follow up the question from my colleague from Financial Times Deutschland, the sense that we got (and I know this is only impressionistic) from the numbers that Mr. Jones gave, the very ballpark numbers, is that the protection force would be a multiple… the NATO protection force would be a multiple of the number of people involved in training; that is that there would be more people involved in protecting the trainers than there would be trainers. That was a clear sense that we got from the… the difference between 300 and 3,000. Would you expect, given your experience, that the people responsible for the close-in protection, the other kind of protection that you detailed, would indeed by more than the number of trainers that they're responsible for?
PETRAEUS: Well, first of all, there's a lot more than just force protection involved in these numbers that have been discussed. It involves logistical support, headquarters support, administrative support, you know, who's going to feed them and all the rest of that. So there's much, more to this than just force protection. And, again, I'm not prepared to tell you how many companies or platoons or whatever else are required. That's why we have a CONOPS to an Op plan process, and we'll work out the details of that in the days and the weeks ahead.
The NATO training mission clearly is, in many respects, a very focused mission. It is in no way trying to do what we're already doing over there, which, in magnitude, is absolutely extraordinary. If you think about the effort that is ongoing by the coalition and the Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq to essentially stand up nine divisions, which is what it's going to be by the end of January, six National Guard divisions, two regular army divisions, an intervention force division, plus a special operations force brigade (which, by the way, has already been operating and has been very, very successful in operations in Najaf, Samarra and now North Babel), in addition to a coastal defence force, a small air force, and a variety… A mechanized brigade is now going to come on-line by the end… certainly the initial elements of that by the end of January. There are over 200 armoured vehicles already functioning. You can see the scope, and that's just on the military side.
On the ministry of interior side, we're talking about, eventually, a
number of 135,000 police (right now around between 85,000 and 90,000),
16,000 going to 32,000 border police over the course of the next year,
and many specialty units such as the emergency response unit, public
order battalions, special police regiments and so forth.
Do you want to add anything to that, Karel?
HILDERINK: …why NATO is very much focusing on the command and control level above, at the ministerial level, advising there and assisting there and in developing institutions for the longer term like this training and doctrine centre, which is, I think, extremely helpful for the Iraqis. And, if you are helping them to develop that kind of institutions and processes that go with that institutions, that will lead them to the self-confidence and the reassuring, again, for being responsible for their own future, and that could help them in making sure that we can leave there again. Because we can only be successful… in fact, the success is determined on the moment that you can decide, "Yes, I can go home because I've done it," and that it will be handed over to the Iraqis again.
Q: Just a quick and probably slightly moronic follow-up. When you talk about the nine divisions being trained, plus the others, roughly how many men is that? And could you give me a sense of the budget?
PETRAEUS: What I can tell you is that the Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq has had $3.4-billion to carry out its mission to date. Of that, we have committed $3.2-billion, roughly, and that includes, again, to give you some sense of the size of this undertaking, about a billion dollars worth of construction.
I know that there is… there are a lot of stories that money is not being spent in Iraq. I can tell you for certain that money is being spent in our area in Iraq, that a billion dollars worth of construction are ongoing. This includes five bases that are multiple-brigade in size and are already rebuilt, already occupied by multiple brigades. Now, think about that in terms of our own nations, if you will, that these are five bases housing two or more brigade-size elements, and they were all reconstructed or constructed in the past roughly six to nine months, and that is continuing. Now, again, add into that as well hundreds of police stations, border forts, training academies and all the other infrastructure, even including the ministry of defence building itself. So, that itself is an enormous task.
I think you all know as well that there was just a $1.8-billion increase in that reprogramming action in Washington, and there are already requirements identified against that in terms of training and equipment and construction for infrastructure. So, it's a pretty substantial task.
MODERATOR: You shouldn't expect us to spend that kind of money. I should just point that out.
PETRAEUS: Yeah, let me just follow that up… Let me follow that up myself and say that, as the commander of the NATO training mission, that I have no expectation whatsoever that there will be such substantial funds forthcoming. Nor, frankly, would we even be seeking those. Again, the NATO effort is focused in areas where NATO has a comparative advantage, where it brings specific skill sets to the table, where it has already identified that it can perform very specific missions, and those are not missions that are the industrial-strength-type of mission that we have been doing with respect to rebuilding the infrastructure and the Iraqi security forces from the ground up even as we are also trying to build from the top down. It's a little bit, I might add, by the way, like trying to repair an aircraft while in flight, but also while it's being shot at.
MODERATOR: Colleagues, just a quick reminder, the General has got a plane… it's his plane, so I don't suppose we're in that much pressure, but let's try to keep the questions short and pointed.
I think you were next, and then we'll go over here.
Q: (Inaudible) from Reuters. Gen. Petraeus, quite apart from the contribution that NATO has already made on the ground in Iraq, as you've mentioned, do you expect then that this augmented capacity that the CONOPS deals with today is going to have a tangible impact on security on the ground in Iraq before the elections?
PETRAEUS: Well, it certainly will with respect to enabling the command and control aspect. I think some of these others are somewhat longer-term, if you will, although they have an important psychological effect, and that is not to be diminished at all either. As you re-establish institutions, there is a degree of confidence that goes along with that. There's, frankly, a degree of re-employment of former officers that's very helpful as well; you increase the number of Iraqis who have a stake in the success of the new Iraq, which is all-important. But the most important short-term contribution likely will be in the area of enabling command and control processes and procedures, so it's sort of the software, if you will, to go along with the hardware that the Multinational Security Transition Command is already putting into place in helping the Iraqis re-establish.
MODERATOR: General, do you want to say a word about equipment co-ordination…
HILDERINK: Yes, please. Thank you.
Today, in fact, there is established here in Brussels a so-called NTEC, which is the NATO Training and Equipment Co-ordination group. It's a group from about 10 people, and what they are doing is trying to set up one end of an harmonization system. The other end of the harmonization system is in Iraq. It's called the TRESC, the Training and Equipment Synchronization Cell, and what they are doing in Iraq is trying to harmonize the different requirements from the Iraqis. We do that there through a committee which is… well, you are aware of that because I promise you that it's chaired by an Iraqi, indeed, and it does have people from MNS-DCI and from the NATO bit in it, and we are trying to make sure that everything that's getting there with requirements between the different parties that are involved there are kind of synchronized and harmonized.
On this side there is, fortunately, a lot of nations that want to help Iraq either with offers or whatsoever, and there it can be on training and it can on equipment. So, on this side, the NTEC is trying to harmonize the different offers to make sure that the resources are spent efficiently, and we will then send the requirements bits up here to the office bit, and here on this side again they're going to try to harmonize the requirements and the offers.
We believe that this can be a very powerful harmonization instrument to make sure that nations are indeed giving the contributions to the Iraqi security that is indeed needed in Iraq, and also at the same time can make sure that it's going to be efficient and not everyone doing the same thing and duplicating each other's efforts.
Q: Martinez Ritorito(?), El Pais, Spain. Some technical details. When are you going to start? Is this an open-ended operation? I mean, is there a calendar to finishing it? How long are you going to be dealing with it? How many people do you expect to prepare, and how are they going to be chosen? There will be priority, some kind of triage to decide who does deserve to go into this new academy and who shouldn't in any case go in.
PETRAEUS: Let me start with the last one, because it will be Iraqis
who recruit Iraqis, not us. There is assistance provided to them
particularly when it comes to leadership. There is an effort as
well by the Iraqis to ensure that national forces are representative
the national population, so that is at work here as well.
PETRAEUS: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Well, there are phases envisioned right now. There are not time lines associated with those phases. We certainly, again, hope that there will be this augmentation that takes place relatively quickly even as the process of developing the Op plan goes forward, and then, as I mentioned, there are subsequent phases, but right now, with the OP plan not even published, there certainly are not times associated with those phases.
Q: Sabina Rofus(?), German…
PETRAEUS: …do they want their staff college and war college to be, how large do they want that population? And it will grow over time. For example, we've started with a relatively small number in the military academy; in part, just, in a sense, shake it out, to try it out, and to identify where there are areas needing improvement, and then over time they'll expand it back much more closely, I would suspect, to the size of a normal country of that size.
Q: A very quick question. Sabina Rofus(?), German television. How many nations will contribute until now to this training mission?
HILDERINK: It was, on a certain moment, 12 nations. And the CONOPS is just accepted, so what happens now is a fourth generation process and the establishment of an organization, so we are identifying now exactly what functions there are and then it will be open to nations to decide what contribution they want to make.
And what is also important to mention is that not all contributions have to be made inside Iraq. There is also possibilities to make a contribution, to offer certain possibilities outside Iraq. And these contributions outside Iraq will never be, I believe, the main focus, because normally a country would like to train their security forces within the country that those security forces are going to defend, but there will be, of course, a lot of possibilities to contribute also from outside Iraq. In fact, the first thing is going to happen already. In the first week of November there will be a training in Stavanger at the Joint Warfare Centre where 20 Iraqis are going to, with the assistance of the Norwegian government, to make that come true. And there will be other possibilities as well.
MODERATOR: Last question.
Q: Adriano Vitucci(?) for the Associated Press, the Italian service. Without wanting to simplify too much, would it be correct, to say it in a few words, that the difference between what MNF is doing and NATO is doing is that MNF is training soldiers whereas NATO will basically train trainers? That's more or less the idea?
PETRAEUS: Well, first of all, it's the Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq that is shouldering the large training that is ongoing right now of police as well as soldiers. We have actually been providing some assistance at higher levels as well, but, frankly, that's an area where, as I mentioned earlier, there were gaps that had emerged, and certainly areas where we were thin and needed assistance. And it was just about that time, candidly, that Karel Hilderink showed up with his band of merry men and women and they identified the same gaps and areas of thinness, of weakness, and augmented the first and filled the second.
So, I think that's the better way to put it. In general, we were already trying to do what we could in many areas, but began to recognize that there were limits to what we could do, and NATO is filling a number of those very effectively.