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19 November 2004
See also Eyeballing the Iraq Kill and Maim Zone.
Jump to photographs.
NEWS TRANSCRIPT from the United States Department of Defense
DoD News Briefing
Lt. Gen. Lance L. Smith, Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Central Command
Friday, November 19, 2004 - 3:30 p.m. EST
BRYAN WHITMAN (Pentagon deputy spokesman): Well, thank you for joining us for our third briefing of the day. This afternoon we have the deputy commander of U.S. Central Command here, Lieutenant General Lance Smith, who many of you know, and who we have seen by the miracles of modern technology on our video screen up here. But he was in town, and he's agreed to give us some time this afternoon to give you a current situational update in theater.
And with that, I will turn it over to you, sir.
GEN. SMITH: Thank you.
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's great to be here; it really is. Sometimes this is the only opportunity we get to see our families. And so I'm back for a week, and had to come up to the city and testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee, and it gives us a chance to go over and visit the other agencies as we go through the difficult things and challenging things we're doing over in our region. So I'm pleased to be here, and I look forward to the questions after this.
I, first of all, would like to start out saying, you know, condolences to all those families and family members of coalition members and Iraqis that lost family members in the recent operations out there, of which there were a number of ongoing. The Fallujah operation was very successful, but it had a price, and all of our thoughts are with the loved ones that were lost there.
We are very pleased with operations in Fallujah. It happened the way it was planned. It was swift. There was overwhelming firepower that was put in the right place at the right time. And I wouldn't say that we are in mopping up operations; that sounds like nothing's going on. There's some intense fighting still going on in some pockets in Fallujah and we will continue until those pockets are gone.
It looks like these are some of the jihadists. We're not sure whether they're foreign fighters or local, but what we see from them is the type of people that are there prepared to fight to the very last. Some of 'em have explosive vests that they're fighting with that will, as our soldiers go into the buildings or wherever they are, we expect that they'll blow themselves up to cause further casualties. So we are slowly working ourselves through those limited areas where we still are.
We're going to find continued evidence, we think, that we've severely disrupted the insurgents' game plan as we go back and take a look at the exploitation of what we've done. As you know, we went through the city house by house. We are now going back and re-looking at some of the areas we've been to make sure that we're capturing all the information that's available out there.
There are some interesting things that have come out of this fight, and I will read some of 'em to you. In one sector of Fallujah, one unit uncovered 91 weapons caches and 431 improvised explosive devices over the last 10 days. In contrast to that, the entire Marine Expeditionary Force found 48 caches and 93 IEDs in the month of October. And in all of Iraq in the month of October, units found 130 caches and destroyed 348 IEDs. So that is an incredibly significant amount of weapons and IEDs that were found in the city.
We also found large IED-making facilities, both the kind that make the remotely controlled as well as the command detonated wire as well as facilities for making vehicle-borne IEDs. So clearly, besides being a safe haven for leadership and command and control, Fallujah was a center for making the IEDs that were being produced and used in other parts of the country to attack the coalition. And we continue to make significant finds in the city every day.
In other parts of the city, humanitarian assistance is being conducted, currently focused by the Iraqi security forces and the U.S. Marines and the soldiers that are there, handing out food and water. This is not a humanitarian crisis. The number of folks that have come out to get food and water have not been significant. We believe most of the innocent and the families left the city before the attack occurred. And we are going to continue to clear out the city and make sure it's safe before we actually allow large numbers of humanitarian organizations into the city. I can't tell you exactly when that's going to be, but we hope very, very soon. But like I said, the urgency is there to do that, but there's not a crisis that we need them -- the NGOs [non-governmental organizations] in to respond to immediately.
We'll continue to pursue that as we move towards elections in January, and we can talk about the other parts of Iraq during the question and answer period.
Q Post-Fallujah now, can you give us a more thorough assessment of how you see the insurgency across Iraq, what the impact of Fallujah has been on the insurgency? Especially since the belief, I guess, was much of the insurgency in Fallujah was jihadists, Zarqawi loyalists, and you have said in the past you believe in other parts of the country it's more former regime loyalists. Walk us across Iraq.
GEN. SMITH: Well, let me try and characterize what we really thought was in Fallujah and what Fallujah was being used for. Clearly, it was a safe haven for Zarqawi and his group, which was not, by the way, all foreign fighters. There were some element of Zarqawi's outfit that were foreign fighters, but also a number that were Iraqis. And he intentionally recruited Iraqis so he would have a more significant voice within Iraq.
But Fallujah was also the center of the former-regime element effort to destabilize Iraq, that as you know was always a stronghold of Ba'athist activism. And these IED factories and those sorts of things are not what we would say were necessarily part of the Zarqawi network, but more related to the former-regime elements.
And so this also operated as a command-and-control facility, and we have seen that within the city, where they built these IEDs, they had fighters, they had pretty good freedom of movement, and from Fallujah they would stage out and go into other cities and other areas to attack not just coalition forces but attack Iraqis.
And so we believe the impact of Fallujah is to have taken away a very significant safe haven, to have taken away their ability to command and control from a central location. That's not to say that they still can't work some level of coordination, but we've taken their command center away.
And we have killed a lot of insurgents, some terrorists of Zarqawi, too early to tell, but certainly a very large number of former-regime element types. And, you know, we will always -- we will debate the numbers for a while as to what they really mean, but oftentimes if the Marines say that they've killed 1,200 to 1,600 folks, you know, that's what they think, and oftentimes you find out that the wounded are considerably larger than that and the number killed are larger than that, just because we're very conservative in our estimations.
Q So do you agree with General Sattler yesterday when he said the back of the insurgency is broken?
GEN. SMITH: General Sattler is a great commander and he is focused on Fallujah and did spectacular things in there. I think it's too early for me to say, given the broad perspective Iraq, that the backbone of the insurgency is broken. We have certainly had a significant impact on the insurgency, but we know that the important part is going to be to follow on with the success and not allow a safe haven to exist anyplace else, like Ramadi or Baqubah or some of those other cities where we know these folks go.
Q General, just to clarify, did you have confirmed kills in Fallujah, terrorist-confirmed --
Q Terrorist leaders confirmed.
GEN. SMITH: I do not. We have some indications -- and you know we get indications from a lot of different sources, that there have been some members of the leadership that either didn't make it out or have been wounded or may still be there fighting to the end. Not everybody said, "I'm out of here. You guys stick back and fight for me."
MR. WHITMAN: All right, thank you.
Q Just to clarify one thing on the breaking of the back of the insurgency issue, what evidence would you have to see that's lacking today before you broadly would make the claim that the insurgency's back has been broken?
GEN. SMITH: I would say until we can get the intimidation campaign, the widespread intimidation campaign under control, when we see people freely taking part in government, freely acting -- and I don't mean everyplace; there's always going to be -- you know, stopping intimidation is going to be a hard thing to do. And about the only way we can do that is to maintain an offensive position and go after these guys before they can do the kidnapping, before they can, you know, kill the leadership, and protect the leadership at the same time.
Q Haven't you been doing that all along?
GEN. SMITH: We have been. And --
Q What's going to be different?
GEN. SMITH: I think what's different is there's not a safe haven for them to operate out of, that they have freedom of movement. They are going to be under -- if we are successful in what we plan, is they will be under the same kind of pressure that we have put the al Qaeda senior leadership under, and it's going to be much more difficult to orchestrate the kind of things that they're doing right now.
MR. WHITMAN: Thank you, General.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
Friday, November 19, 2004 10:01 a.m. EST
Presenter: Charles Hess, Director, Armys DoD Iraq Project and Contracting Office and Bill Taylor, State Department Iraq Reconstruction Management Office
Defense Department Briefing on Progress of Reconstruction Work in Iraq; Plans For Reconstruction in Fallujah
MODERATOR: BRYAN WHITMAN
WHITMAN: Good morning, gentlemen. This is Bryan Whitman from the Pentagon. Can you hear us?
HESS: Yes, we can.
WHITMAN: Good morning. As many of you here in the Pentagon know, the Project and Contracting Office is responsible for implementing nearly two-thirds of the $18.4 billion Iraqi Relief and Reconstruction Fund that was approved by Congress, and so they're a key organization to the success of our mission in Iraq.
And today we are welcoming Charles Hess, who is the director of the Iraq Project and Contracting Office, and Ambassador Bill Taylor, who is the director of the Iraq Reconstruction Management Office, for what is going to be one in a series of briefings that we hope to bring you over time periodically. Thanks to Amy Burns for arranging for this one and for subsequent ones that we'll have as we go into the future.
They're also prepared today to discuss a little bit about the reconstruction plans for Fallujah.
They can hear you but they can't see your smiling faces today, so when we get to the questions, if you'd just identify yourself and your organization, that would be helpful for them. They do have a presentation that they're going to make before we get into the questions. And so with that, gentlemen, I'd like to turn it over to you.
HESS: Thank you very much.
This is Charlie Hess. And on behalf of the Army's Project and Contracting Office of the Department of Defense, we're happy to be here this evening to brief the Pentagon press corps from Baghdad.
We're also very pleased, as was indicated, to have Ambassador Bill Taylor of the State Department's Iraq Reconstruction Management Office joining with us tonight.
And again, while our group, PCO, is responsible for the contracting and program project management aspects of the Iraqi Reconstruction and Relief Fund, Ambassador Taylor's group has broad responsibility for identifying the requirements and the priorities as we discussed the last time we briefed, on the 7th of October. Together I think we can give you sort of a comprehensive understanding of where we are today with respect to reconstruction activities.
I know that you all have been actively engaged in covering the events in Fallujah. Many of your colleagues actually have been embedded in the action. We would also like to brief you today on that related subject and to include what's projected to happen in Fallujah as well as give you a broader sense of what's happening with reconstruction efforts in general.
Again, we'd like to give you some indication of what's happened in about the six weeks since we talked the last time, and so I will do that and then I'm going to turn it over to Ambassador Taylor to give you some thoughts and focus on what's happening with respect to Fallujah.
First of all, let me give you some insight into the metrics that we talked about last time, and again, which was briefed to you on the 7th of October. With respect to the money that's been committed of the $18.4 billion, that amount that we talked about last time was about $10.66 billion, that has grown to $12.77 billion today, which is an increase of almost 20 percent, or roughly $2 billion.
Obligations. The amount of money that we're contractually bound, obligated to pay firms is up by over a billion dollars, from $7.7 billion to $8.9 billion, or approximately 15.6 percent.
Additionally, as a point of information, many of those contracts, which were awarded in open -- full and open competition -- many of those have been awarded to Iraqi firms, approximately 4,500 of which are under the management and stewardship of Iraqi-owned firms.
Amount of money that's been disbursed with respect to the program has gone from 1.3 billion (dollars) to approximately 1.77 billion (dollars), which is an increase of nearly half a billion dollars, or 34 percent, since the 7th of October.
And while those financial numbers are, I think, good news, perhaps the more compelling story is the number of construction starts. Right now, since the 7th of October, when we had 703 construction projects under way, we've now increased that number to 873, which is an increase of approximately 24 percent. And we are on target to surpass our goal of having a thousand construction starts by year end, which was outlined to you in our last briefing.
As we've talked previously, security is still a serious challenge. But as we indicated in these metrics, we are still moving forward, and we are still working to achieve our three main goals, which we talked about also at that briefing: one, which was to improve the infrastructure of Iraq; second, to improve Iraqi employment through the use of local Iraqi firms and subcontracting to the maximum extent we can to Iraqi firms; and then, finally, to build capacity within the ministries and within the interim Iraqi government, so that they can in fact do much of this work in the future themselves.
With that as a backdrop, let me turn it over to Ambassador Taylor, who can update you as well and give you some specifics on the situation in Fallujah. Thank you.
TAYLOR: Thank you, Charlie.
On Fallujah, as you know, the successful military operation needs to be followed by an equally successful reconstruction operation. The Marines, who have been doing most of the work along with Army and working very closely with the Iraqi forces, have done a lot of preparation for the reconstruction in Fallujah. They have focused their attention on preparing for humanitarian work. They've pre-positioned a lot of stocks of food and water and medicine. They have been preparing to start up on small reconstruction projects, in particular those that will restore essential services. So people are taking a look and assessing what the problems are with electricity distribution lines, for example, and sewer lines, water treatment in order to get clean water to people. We will then be able to move into the smaller projects of schools and clinics, and then eventually get to the larger projects that will -- that have been planned for some time but have not been able to move forward during the past several months.
This, as I said, is a carefully coordinated program. We are working very closely with the Iraqi government. The Iraqi government has designated a Cabinet minister, Minister Hassani, who is the Minister of Industry and Minerals, to be the lead for the Iraqi government in this reconstruction effort. So he and I have met now two times. Our staffs have gotten together. The ministries of electricity and health and water resources, municipalities have gotten together with our folks in terms of the Marines and the Army, who are going to undertake these efforts, to coordinate that work. They've put up a good amount of money. We have some funds identified that will allow us to move forward on this reconstruction. As I say, this will be as important as the military operation in order to consolidate the victory.
With that, I think we're ready to take your questions.
WHITMAN: All right. Thank you, gentlemen, for that overview.
Let's go ahead and start right here.
Q: This is Will Dunham with Reuters. Gentlemen, can you say how much money is being devoted to Fallujah? When do you think the earliest that some of the projects can begin in earnest?
TAYLOR: We have identified tens of millions of dollars. The government of Iraq has identified tens of millions of dollars. These -- we're still working -- as I indicated earlier, we are working together with them to figure out which projects we should do and which they should do. This could get into the order of a hundred million dollars or so, into Fallujah.
In terms of when, of course, the first thing that has to happen is the final military action needs to be completed. As you know -- as you've seen, there are still some problems there. It's not totally done. I think we are in full control, but there are still pockets of resistance. And there's a lot of booby traps and of other explosives that are around that will inhibit our work.
Some work, however, has already begun. As I say, the Marines have begun some clean-up work themselves. I would imagine within a week or two our projects will be able to be assessed and begun in terms of contracts with local construction firms, that is with Iraqi construction firms there in Fallujah. So within a week or two, again, depending on when the city is cleared of people opposing what we're trying to do, we ought to be able to get the first of these small projects going, as I mentioned earlier.
HESS: (Off mike) -- with Bill's assessment there. Again, our experience in Najaf and Samarra has indicated to us that it takes approximately a week to two weeks. Many of these projects that will be started are in fact projects that were curtailed as a result of the hostilities. We have existing contracts, and it's a matter of just getting those contract entities back in position and getting them started up again. But clearly, we are waiting for our cue from the maneuver commanders to do that.
As an example of some of the projects that will be undertaken in Fallujah, we have a significant amount of money, approximately $8 million, identified for water-supply improvements. We've identified four new schools that will be constructed for a total of about $4 million. We'll be buying new solid-waste equipment, garbage trucks, so that they have some continuing means of debris and trash removal, along with many other projects. So those are the kinds of things that are in the portfolio.
Q: Briefly, the $100 million figure that you mentioned, that is a combination of U.S. money and Iraqi money?
HESS: That's correct.
WHITMAN: Pam, go ahead.
Q: Gentlemen, this is Pam Hess with UPI. Mr. Hess, I don't think we're related. (Laughter.) I have two questions for you. The first one is on that $100 million. That's money that was allocated before this battle. How much more do you think Fallujah is going to take to reconstruct, because that money was already on the books before at least 250 buildings were destroyed.
My second question is longer term. One of the problems that you have had throughout Iraq, but especially in Fallujah, is that there's not really a strong local economy. And it is our understanding from what you all have told us that the insurgency was a large part of that economy -- people were getting paid to take potshots at U.S. forces; paid to lay bombs. What are you going to do long-term for the economy there to make sure that Fallujans have actual jobs even after the initial money is spent from reconstruction, because obviously there will be an uptick in local employment for a while?
HESS: Let me start with the first question. And again, I think that addresses the issue of what needs to be done and how do we address those needs.
The reality is, we have teams of people, along with the civil/military operations folks, in Fallujah. They've been there for probably the last week to 10 days, assessing what needs to be done. And those -- frankly, those assessments will continue as more and more of the city becomes available for us to evaluate. So consequently, our estimates and our evaluation of what needs to be done will change, very likely, across the upcoming days.
Again, many of the projects that we've -- we have in our original portfolio are the kinds of things that you would need in any event -- again, improvements to the water system, power lines to certain neighborhoods, water pumping stations and so forth.
But in addition to that, we'll be certainly looking at damage. And again, one of the elements of this sort of portfolio that we're pulling together -- it's not just what's in the existing IRRF program, but it's also monies that had been allocated to the maneuver commanders and the Commanders Emergency Response Program. So between that, the money that the Iraqi -- interim Iraqi government is going to be allocating for Fallujah, again, we will try and make the best match of projects and fill in the gaps with the money that's also coming in from other sources.
TAYLOR: Exactly right. That hundred million, as we said before, is both U.S. and Iraqi funds. And so none of the Iraqi funds were scheduled to go in there before the fighting. So those -- all of those are new.
As Charlie indicates, some of the more mobile programs, such as the CERP, the Commanders Emergency Relief Program funds that the maneuver commanders have, but also USAID has similarly mobile funds under a program run by the Office of Transition Initiatives, OTI, in USAID -- and those you can move, and those have been increased. Both the CERP and the OTI funds have been increased, along with the Iraqi funds. They're a significant amount of new money going in, in addition to the current plans.
On the longer-term question, you're of course exactly right. In the long term, the economy needs to grow. People need to go back to work in jobs there -- Fallujah was known, has been known for some time as the center or a center of construction jobs and construction firms. So it has a base, it has an economic base that needs to be rebuilt because there is damage to the city, but that's the kind of program -- the kinds of projects we need to move into; that is, restoring the electricity, restoring the water, restoring basic services so people can move back in, begin to repair and resume their lives, hopefully better lives without the extremists there. And that will generate the jobs that is the answer. The jobs are the answer for the long term.
WHITMAN: Donna, I think you were next if you --
Q: No, actually --
WHITMAN: You didn't? Okay. I'm sorry.
Q: Thank you. (Laughs.)
WHITMAN: Let's go ahead over here.
Q: Mr. Hess, is it? I'm Joe Tabet from Al Hurra TV. Could you tell us if there is any construction projects on the Iraqi border to protect Iraq from illegal entry? And if yes, what kind of -- what type of project are --?
HESS: I'm sorry; I didn't catch the full extent of the question. I think you asked about Iraqi construction firms involved in projects?
WHITMAN: I think the question, if I may paraphrase, has to do with any projects that might help with border security and what those might be.
HESS: Yes. In fact, there are many projects. We have a substantial number of border forts under way, which are a part of the portfolio for the MNSTC-I program, and General Petraeus. Those projects are scattered throughout the bordering provinces to many countries, including Syria, Iran and others. And so those are under way and in construction, and many of those have been completed.
WHITMAN: Martha, go ahead.
Q: Just a couple of questions, sir. It's Martha Raddatz from ABC. I'm looking at your figures that you passed out on -- in these papers or your PowerPoint presentation here and you have -- say that you prepositioned humanitarian assistance, to include 14 days' supply of food and water, 2,000 health and comfort packages, 90-day supply of first aid. That seems low. How many people do you think are in the city that need assistance, and could you give some more specifics about what else is prepositioned in terms of sewage trucks, in terms of electrical workers that you've coordinated with the Marine Corps?
TAYLOR: In terms -- to your question about how many people are in the city, most people left. Most people left the city before the fighting. The people who remained did the fighting with our forces. We are now in the process of going out to the surrounding villages, where many of the people who left Fallujah are now staying. And they're staying with friends and relatives, in hotels and schools. So they are gradually going to come back into Fallujah, at which time we will, together with the Iraqi government, be able to provide for their needs.
The Iraqi government is making their plans, their very specific plans, to move food through the normal food-rationing system into Fallujah. The medical supplies that we've got there -- actually, it may not be fully evident -- medical supplies are adequate for probably three months in the clinics and in the hospitals there.
Right now, when people drive through the city they don't see civilians; the civilians are not there. There may be some people in houses, but they haven't come out in any kind of numbers yet. There are not very many people in the hospitals at this point. So we are prepared and ready for them when they come back; the government is prepared and ready for them when they come back, and additional supplies are coming from Baghdad and from the surrounding areas into Fallujah to be prepared.
Q: If I could just follow up, too, if you could go into the specifics. And also, one of the things you said in one of the questions, I guess, was we haven't decided on some of the projects who will do them, the Iraqis or the Americans -- if I'm correct about that. It seems that that would have been something you would want decided before this happened. Are you concerned that working this out also loses time?
TAYLOR: As I mentioned, the Iraqi government has recently decided how much -- in some general terms, how much money they're going to put into Fallujah. We have been meeting for the past two weeks with the Iraqi government and their ministries to talk about the specific projects and their priorities and our priorities. We have described to them our existing plans, that Charlie has described; we have described to them our ability to make changes, and particularly in the smaller, more immediate projects of cleaning and repairing with the two more mobile programs that I mentioned earlier, both the CERP and OTI.
So yes, we've been doing some planning well in advance on the Marine side. They've been doing some thinking about that. We are now comparing. We've got a week or two to continue these preparations, to bring supplies in, to identify contractors, and to be able to get started when the military commander on the Marine side, together with the governor, the acting governor that the Iraqi government has appointed, when they say it's time to go in and this part of the city is clean and ready to move, and this part of the city is clear of military problems, then we'll be able to move in. And I believe we will have a well-coordinated program. We have the makings of it right now. In the next week, we'll continue to work on that.
HESS: And I would add I think we also have contractual mechanisms in place that would allow us to rapidly get additional contracts placed if there are particular needs. For example, in terms of debris removal and things of that nature, where you don't necessarily have a full understanding of the quantity of materials to be removed, clearly we have indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity type contracts that can be used to adjust, based upon what we find when we get there and have more understanding of what the needs really are.
Q: This is Tony Capaccio with Bloomberg News. One question, one narrow question. Can you give us a sense of the extent of damage in Fallujah, in terms of how many homes, buildings, and what that represents from the whole city standpoint? It's hard to get a feel from Washington.
TAYLOR: Both Charlie and I will be down there shortly to take a look for ourselves. The reports that we've gotten in the last couple of days are that there are many buildings that are damaged. A limited number of buildings have been destroyed, but a large number of buildings have been damaged. So we understand there's a lot of work to be done.
The electricity distribution -- transmission and distribution lines are down. They need to be repaired. There is the need for rebuilding of some houses, probably many houses, at least repair of these houses.
So I'm expecting that we will see the extent of the damage when we go down there shortly.
HESS: Right. And I guess if -- I think we'll probably expect to see more damage, obviously, than we saw in Najaf and Samarra. So again, if you have some sensing of what that was like, I think this will be certainly more significant.
Q: To what extent are you getting the sense from Iraqis that this is going to be considered a major test of both the interim government and the U.S.'s ability to not only defeat the insurgency but to restore stability? Are you worried about heightened expectations that you need to dampen?
TAYLOR: We have a commitment to the people of Fallujah -- indeed, to the people of Iraq -- to help them reconstruct their city and their country. We take that commitment very seriously.
There is no doubt that there is damage to that city, and we've seen over the past year and a half damage to this country, and that's what Charlie and his colleagues and others that are working on this thing are committed to help repair. So yes, we have a commitment; we are confident that we will meet that commitment.
WHITMAN: Bob Burns.
Q: Ambassador Taylor, this is Bob Burns from Associated Press. Last time we talked to you, in early October, you discussed the extent to which security was a limitation on carrying out the construction projects. And I'm wondering, beyond Fallujah and the rest of the Sunni Triangle in particular, would you say now at this point that security is more or less of an obstacle than it was six weeks ago?
TAYLOR: I would say it's different. In some places it's more; in some places it's less. It is less of a problem in many of the provinces. There are only three or four provinces where security is a big problem. There are incidents in other provinces, but in particular in the northeast and in the south, we are able to operate projects without much difficulty.
As you indicate, in the center, the center -- Baghdad, Fallujah, Ramadi, up to Samarra, then up in Mosul -- so the Sunni areas and then up in Mosul, it is worse today than it was, and we are having greater difficulties from security at that time.
We are at this kind of one by one. Charlie indicated -- he reminds us that we did this in Najaf, we did this in Samarra, we did this in Sadr City. We're now doing it in Fallujah. We are moving through the areas, the cities where the insurgents have given us a hard time and have kept us from doing reconstruction. And indeed, we're worried that in some areas -- again, not all, in some areas it would now be difficult to have elections. And it's that kind of work that we need to do between now and January so that we can have elections in the entire country.
HESS: And I would agree with Bill in that assessment. Again, we're seeing, I think, a change in terms of what's happening in the security environment. Again, one of our mechanisms to deal with that, frankly, is to start as many projects as we can, given the fact that we know the insurgents can't be everywhere. And so consequently, the more projects we start, we certainly are moving Iraqis out, we're getting them employed, they are doing meaningful labor, they're restoring their country. And in and of itself, that is a very positive and powerful thing that we want to accomplish here between now and the elections in January.
Q: Lisa Meyer from Associated Press Radio. Following up on what Bob was talking about, gentlemen, I'm wondering what are you going to do specifically to protect projects against sabotage? And what security arrangements, in broad terms, do you have in place to protect the people that are working on the projects?
HESS: Let me start with that one. In regard to sabotage, that is still a challenge. Clearly, we've seen instances of that occurring in various places, particularly in the oil sector, where the insurgents have a propensity for damaging and destroying the source of revenue and income for the government. And that is a problem.
Given that, again part of the solution is to make sure that we've got systems and mechanisms in place to deal with the security, by either hiring firms; by looking at mechanisms to track and maintain visibility over the commodities that we move into the country, which we're doing; by more closely aligning ourselves with the maneuver commanders who are out there in the battle space so we know where we should operate and where we shouldn't operate; and by, again, using many more Iraqi firms to help support the effort, given the fact that there's a lower profile and they can fit in and have less of a footprint in terms of security problems. And so we're using all of those things in various ways and in various places, I think, to try and mitigate the security situation.
TAYLOR: Charlie mentioned the problems with oil and oil supplies. The product deliveries into Baghdad have been receiving an inordinate amount of attention from the insurgents. And the Minister of Oil is very concerned about this exact question, about the security of people repairing oil lines, and intimidating truck drivers. He has come to us, and we've been working, as Charlie indicates, with the maneuver commanders in the area to provide specific protection and convoy protection on the way between supply points.
But in addition, he also has been in touch, of course, with his Prime Minister and his Minister of Defense, who has agreed to provide two battalions that the oil minister needs to be deployed on specific areas. So in addition to the measures that Charlie described, the Iraqis themselves are taking measures to help deal with the security problems.
WHITMAN: Gentlemen, we'll make this the last one.
How about somebody that hasn't one. Go ahead.
Q: Thank you. Rebecca Christie from Dow Jones Newswires. I wanted to ask about contracting relationships, particularly by the U.S. U.S. contractors have said that there are more auditors on the ground in Iraq than there are project managers, and that they have sort of run into trouble with contracting regulations because they don't have the on-the-ground oversight to help them navigate these U.S. rules, and then auditors are trying to apply rules that maybe don't work as well in an unstable environment.
HESS: Let me provide some comment on that. Clearly there are a lot of auditors here. You're dealing with an exceptional amount of money, and we need to protect the public and the Congress' interest in the amount of money that they put into the Iraqi Relief and Reconstruction Program. And so, consequently, you will see auditors.
My belief, in talking to the prime contractors and the sector contractors who are working with us on this program, is that where there have been issues in terms of providing information to the auditors, we've done that. Again, I think it's important that we have appropriate oversight. This is an extremely large amount of money and it's moving in very many different places to try and accomplish many things at the same time. And so, consequently, we want to make sure that, when all is said and done, we've gotten the best value for the taxpayer's dollar in terms of the investments we've made throughout the country. And so, again, my sense is if there are issues we're working through those, and I'm personally not aware of any at this particular instant, which are truly an impediment to us making progress.
Having said that, we certainly are embracing the use of Iraqi firms. Clearly they play a very large part of this equation, and it's very much as if this were a U.S. disaster where local firms need to be engaged in the solution, and those local firms come from all over Iraq, not just from here in Baghdad.
Q: (Off mike) -- contractors are penalized by auditors for hiring local firms because they can't provide the same documentation or the same types of accounting that a Western contractor might be able to provide?
HESS: I'm not aware of any issues at this particular point in time with local firms being precluded from bidding on a project as a result of accounting requirements. In fact, just recently, most of the work that's being done on the village roads -- we've got five governorates awarded now, approximately 217 kilometers of roadway under way. All of that work is being done by local Iraqi firms.
WHITMAN: Well, gentlemen, again, thank you very much for your time this evening. We hope to have you back in a couple of weeks to continue to give us updates on how things are going in the reconstruction business in Iraq. Thank you.
HESS: Thank you very much.
TAYLOR: Thank you.
Associated Press photographs and captions. No photographs
available from AP inside
Fallujah since November 17. Apparently no civilian photographers are allowed to
document the battle devastation on the ground, and apparently no satellite photos of
Fallujah have been published from any country with satellite capability since the
DoD Announces America Supports You Program: http://cryptome.org/dod111904.htm
Sharon McLeese of Covington, La., reaches out to touch the coffin of her son, Lance Cpl. Justin McLeese, as Sharon's husband, Daniel, reaches out to her during funeral services on Friday, Nov. 19, 2004, at St. Peters Catholic Church in Covington. McLeese, 19, of Covington, was killed Saturday in the volatile region that stretches west from Baghdad and includes Fallujah, where U.S. troops have battled insurgents for the past week. (AP Photo/The Advocate, Richard Alan Hannon)
** FILE ** Justin McLeese is shown in this August 2002 file photo taken in Covington, La. Lance Cpl. Justin D. McLeese, 19, of Covington, La., was killed Saturday, Nov. 13, 2004, in the volatile region of Iraq that stretches west from Baghdad and includes Fallujah, where U.S. troops have battled insurgents for the past week. Tara McLeese, Justin's older sister, said her brother, an All-District football player at Covington High, could have played college football. However, she said, he joined the Marine Corps because of his respect for the Corps and because he wanted to be ``someone special.'' (AP Photo/The Times-Picayune, Sanford Myers, File)
Marines carry the casket of Cpl. Romulo Jimenez II, 21, after his funeral service in Bellington, W.Va., Friday, Nov. 19, 2004. Jimenez was killed in Fallujah, on Nov. 10, 2004. Jimenez had enlisted recently for a second tour of duty and was a member of the Marine Expeditionary Force 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division. (AP Photo/The Inter-Mountain, Suzanne Stewart)
Mourners gather for the burial of Marine Cpl. Romulo Jimenez II, Friday, Nov. 19, 2004, in Belington, W.Va. Jimenez, 21, of Miami, died Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2004, in the battle to oust insurgents from Fallujah. He had enlisted recently for a second tour of duty and was a member of the Marine Expeditionary Force 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division. (AP Photo/The Inter-Mountain, Suzanne Stewart)
This undated photo released by family shows U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Travis Desiato, of Bedford, Mass., who was killed in Fallujah, Iraq, Monday, Nov. 15, 2004. Desiato was assigned to the 1st Batallion, 8th Marines, Alpha Company, 2nd platoon. (AP Photo/The Bedford Minuteman)
** FILE ** In this undated photo released by Meleasa Ellis, Marine Sgt. Christopher T. Heflin is shown. Heflin, 26, died in action Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2004, in the Al Anbar province of Iraq, the Department of Defense said. The province _ which stretches west from Baghdad to the Syrian border and includes Fallujah _ has been a flash point in fighting between U.S. forces and Iraqi insurgents. (AP Photo/Ellis Family via The Paducah Sun, File)
Family members of Marine Lance Cpl. Travis Desiato, 19, from left, father Joseph Desiato, step-mother Laurie Desiato, half-sister Alli Desiato, wife Tracey Desiato, and half-sister Nessa Desiato, gather on the lawn of their Bedford, Mass. house while a statement was read to reporters Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2004. Travis Desiato was killed Monday, Nov. 15, during fighting in Fallujah, Iraq, where coalition forces have been fighting insurgents for more than week. (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)
Tracy Miller of Towson, Md., holds a photograph of herself and her son, Marine Cpl. Nicholas L. Ziolkowski, 22, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2004 at her Towson apartment. Ziolkowski was killed Nov. 21 during fighting in Fallujah, Iraq. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark)
Elvira Perez, the younger sister of Andres Perez and a marine herself, holds up a Aug 31, 2000 file photo of her brother at her home in Santa Cruz, Calif., Monday, Nov. 15 ,2004. Perez was killed Sunday, Nov. 14, 2004 in combat during fighting for the Iraqi city of Fallujah. Perez, 21, joined the Marines after graduating from high school. (AP Photo/Santa Cruz Sentinel, Dan Coyro)
** FILE ** This is a Aug. 31, 2000 file photo of Andres Perez at the annual high school football jamboree when he was a senior linebacker for Harbor High in Santa Cruz, Calif. Perez was killed Sunday, Nov. 14, 2004 in combat during fighting for the Iraqi city of Fallujah. Perez, 21, joined the Marines after graduating from high school. (AP Photo/Santa Cruz Sentinel/Bill Lovejoy, File)
US Marines of the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines battle insurgents in the streets of Fallujah, Iraq, Wednesday Nov. 17 2004. (AP Photo/ LCpl J.A. Chaverri, US Marines) EDITORIAL USE ONLY
US Marines of the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines battle insurgents in the streets of Fallujah, Iraq, Wednesday Nov. 17 2004. (AP Photo/ LCpl J.A. Chaverri, US Marines) ** EDITORIAL USE ONLY **
Masked militants of the Palestinian Islamic group Hamas set a flame to an efigy of a US soldier Friday Nov. 19, 2004, in the West Bank city of Nablus, during a demonstration against the American offensive in the Iraqi city of Fallujah. Hamas and various other Islamic flags in background. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Supporters of the militant group Hamas prepare to burn the Israeli and US flags, and mock coffins of US President George W. Bush, left, and Iraq Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, right, during a demonstration against the American military operations in the Iraqi town of Fallujah, at the Jebaliya refugee camp, adjacent to Gaza City Friday Nov. 19, 2004. The writing in Arabic on the coffins reads "the evil Bush' at left, and "the evil Allawi" at right. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
A British soldier from the Black Watch regiment prepares to destroy an unexploded rocket that landed inside Camp Dogwood 25 miles south of Baghdad, Iraq, Friday Nov. 19, 2004. Some 850 British troops are stationed at Camp Dogwood, relocated from the British controlled sector in southern Iraq, to relieve U.S. troops for an assault on the city of Fallujah. (AP Photo/Damir Sagolj, Pool)
British Royal Marines Commandos attached to the Black Watch regiment walk with their combat gear before a mission at Camp Dogwood, 25 miles south of Baghdad, Iraq Friday Nov. 19, 2004. Some 850 British troops are stationed at Camp Dogwood, relocated from the British controlled sector in southern Iraq, to relieve U.S. troops for an assault on the city of Fallujah. (AP Photo/Damir Sagolj, Pool)
British soldiers of Delta company from the Black Watch regiment take up positions during an operation on the banks of the Euphrates river, 25 miles south of Baghdad, Iraq Wednesday Nov. 17, 2004. About 850 British troops, mainly from the Black Watch, are deploying in a restive region just south of Baghdad, allowing U.S. troops to reinforce units fighting insurgents in the Sunni Muslim city of Fallujah . (AP Photo/Damir Sagolj, Pool)
An Iraqi man watches a British soldier of Delta company from the Black Watch regiment takeup positions during an operation on the banks of the Euphrates river, 25 miles south of Baghdad, Iraq Wednesday Nov. 17, 2004. About 850 British troops, mainly from the Black Watch, are deploying in a restive region just south of Baghdad, allowing U.S. troops to reinforce units fighting insurgents in the Sunni Muslim city of Fallujah . (AP Photo/Damir Sagolj, Pool)
British armoured personal carriers from the Black Watch regiment drive through the desert after an operation 25 miles south of Baghdad, Iraq wednesday Nov. 17, 2004. About 850 British troops, mainly from the Black Watch regiment, were redeployed to the restive region just south of Baghdad, allowing U.S. troops to reinforce units fighting insurgents in the city of Fallujah. (AP Photo/Damir Sagolj, Pool)
A British soldier of Delta company from the Black Watch battle group takes position during an operation at the bank of the Euphrates river 25 miles south of Baghdad, Iraq Wednesday Nov. 17, 2004. About 850 British troops, mainly from the Black Watch, are deploying in a restive region just south of Baghdad, allowing U.S. troops to reinforce units fighting insurgents in the Sunni Muslim city of Fallujah . (AP Photo/Damir Sagolj, Pool)
British soldiers of Delta company from the Black Watch regiment run for cover after a mortar round exploded near their position at the bank of the Euphrates river 25 miles south of Baghdad, Iraq Wednesday Nov. 17, 2004. About 850 British troops, mainly from the Black Watch, are deploying in a restive region just south of Baghdad, allowing U.S. troops to reinforce units fighting insurgents in the Sunni Muslim city of Fallujah . (AP Photo/Damir Sagolj, Pool)
British soldiers from the Black Watch regiment stand atop armoured personal carrier at their temporary camp in the desert 25 miles south of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday Nov. 17, 2004. About 850 British troops, mainly from the Black Watch regiment, were redeployed to the restive region just south of Baghdad, allowing U.S. troops to reinforce units fighting insurgents in the city of Fallujah. (AP Photo/Damir Sagolj, Pool)
A dog stands beside an effigy of U.S. President George W. Bush symbolizing the obedience of the government of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo during an anti-U.S. rally near the U.S. embassy in Manila Thursday, Nov. 18, 2004. The demonstrators were also denouncing the alleged U.S. attacks on civilians in Fallujah, Iraq. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
As cars pass them, members of Time for Peace stand a the corner in Ames, Iowa, holding signs protesting the war in Iraq Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2004. Time For Peace is a student and Ames community organization is committed to nonviolence and was protesting the recent violence in Fallujah and Mosul, Iraq. (AP Photo/The Ames Tribune/Jon Britton)
Marines of the First Division take a break to gather for a so-called family picture in Fallujah, Iraq, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2004. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
A Marine of the 1st Division takes a nap as his unit gets mail delivered to the front line in Fallujah, Iraq, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2004. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
Iraqi volunteers with The Charity Association of Social Cooperation Iraq load supplies from a warehouse in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2004, for delivery to the residents of war-torn Fallujah. Blankets, heaters and food were provided by charities in Bahrain and Qatar. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
Marines of the 1st Division gather as their unit gets mail delivered to the frontline in Fallujah, Iraq, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2004. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
Cpl. Will McDermott, front, from Phoenix, Ariz and other Marines from the 1st Battalion 5th Marines sleep in their fighting holes in Fallujah, Iraq Thursday, April 22, 2004. (AP Photo/John Moore)
Cpl. Will McDermott from Phoenix, Az., provides security as Marines from the 1st Battalion 5th Marines break down a door while searching buildings for weapons in Fallujah, Iraq, Monday, April 19, 2004. (AP Photo/John Moore)