Operation Inherent Resolve

 

Department of Defense Press Briefing by Col. Dorrian via Teleconference from Baghdad, Iraq

By Colonel John Dorrian, Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman | Press Operations | September 08, 2016

CAPTAIN JEFF DAVIS:  Good morning.  We're bringing Colonel Dorrian up right now.

 

      In the meantime, I just wanted to alert you to tomorrow.  Our normal off-camera press briefing, normally conducted over next door in the press office, we're going to do here tomorrow; still off-camera, but to allow us to use the screens.

 

      We're going to be replaying the press conference held in the Pentagon press briefing room on 9/11.  It's about 17 minutes long.  You'll recognize a lot of familiar faces in it.  And it's kind of an interesting, fitting tribute to what happened on 9/11 and the efforts of a lot of people in your press corps who helped to tell the story of that day, and a rather surreal thing to see a press conference being held from inside a burning building.

 

      So we're going to replay that tape tomorrow at 11:30 as part of our normal press gaggle.

 

      John, you look great.  It is great to see you there.  I just want to make sure we can hear you and you can hear us.

 

      COLONEL JOHN DORRIAN:  Loud and clear -- Lima Charlie.

 

      CAPT. DAVIS:  Well, welcome to you, and appreciate your service in raising your hand to go take on the challenge of being the spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve.  And we look forward to the first of what I know will be many informative briefs from you.  And without any hesitation or ado, we'll turn it over to you.

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  Jeff, thanks very much.

 

      Good morning, Pentagon press corps.  I'm Colonel John Dorrian.  Although I've spoken with many of you individually to address a lot of operational events since I've gotten here, this is my first time to speak to you as a group.

 

      I hope that I can ably follow my esteemed colleagues Chris Garver and Steve Warren, who were most generous with their time and patiently answered my many questions as I prepared for this great job.

 

      I'll start with some prepared remarks, and then I'll be delighted to take your questions.

 

      It's been an eventful few weeks since Lieutenant General Steve Townsend took command of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve.  The general started his command by charging our coalition forces to fulfill his intent in two key areas:  to continue the attack against Daesh; and sustain the considerable momentum built by the III Corps and the coalition joint team that served here before our arrival.

 

      It's been quite a busy three weeks and an eventful three weeks since then, marked by continued progress in shaping and clearing operations in Iraq; continued reduction in Daesh's ability to infiltrate fighters into and out of northern Syria; and sustained pressure on Daesh's command and control, including attacks against Daesh leadership figures, especially in and around Mosul.

 

      Now I'd like to give you an operational overview, starting in Iraq and then moving into Syria.  Please pull up the map.

 

      East of Mosul, that's star number one, coalition forces supported Peshmerga forces conducting Operation Evergreen II, which was designed to seize and control the key terrain near the Gaur River Bridge and the Great Zab River.  The operation was executed with 1,500 to 2,000 Peshmerga with support from coalition and artillery strikes.

 

      Of note, the coalition used helicopters to lift the artillery into position and then exfiltrated the guns when the operation was complete.  The firing solutions this offered provided maximum flexibility for the commander on the ground.  And the entire operation was conducted from August 14th to 16th and took less than 48 hours to achieve its primary goals.  The operation also liberated 12 villages, a lot of people who were living under miserable conditions under Daesh.

 

      At star number two, two ISF and CTS forces added Qayyarah to the list of cities liberated from Daesh.  In the last two weeks alone, the ISF liberated an additional six villages in the area.  The significance of these liberation battles is that the Iraqi security forces continue to gain control of key terrain and lines of communications, while Daesh continues to lose freedom of movement and the resources that come from controlling terrain.

 

      Qayyarah West Airfield has been cleared and efforts are underway to develop this area to support upcoming operations to liberate Mosul.  As my predecessors discussed, this area will be important as a stepping stone and staging area for Iraqi security forces.  In the interest of operational security and protection of our force there, we're going to be a little bit limited today in what details we're able to offer.

 

      Moving north into Syria, near star three.  After taking Jarabulus with its partnered forces, Turkey has announced that they'll clear the remaining -- that they've cleared the remaining border region from further infiltration by Daesh.  This terrain was important as an infiltration route into and out of the region.  ISIL's losing freedom of movement in this area improves security in Europe and around the world and severely impacts Daesh's ability to reinforce fighters in Syria and Iraq.

 

      ISIL is an adaptive and determined enemy.  And the coalition will continue to support Turkey as our NATO ally, and their partner forces, as they continue to strengthen their lines and secure that border.  The coalition will also continue working with our SDF partners in Syria to assure the latest progress continues to build momentum for a lasting defeat of Daesh in the region.

 

      This latest progress, coupled with continuous airstrikes to dismantle Daesh command and control, financing and resupply routes, set conditions for the eventual liberation of Raqqa, the city that Daesh consider their capital.  Part of setting those conditions is continued work to assure that all anti-Daesh forces operating in Syria have the lines of coordination and deconflict operations in what has become very crowded battle space.  Unity of focus on ISIL over the coming days and weeks is imperative.  Our allies, our coalition members, and all of our partners have a unifying interest in defeating Daesh.  We believe the important -- the improved coordination of armed activities in northern Syria will improve the safety of our forces.

 

      As you all know, combined joint task force Operation Inherent Resolve is a coalition of many nations, unified to defeat Daesh and I’d like to highlight the accomplishments of some of our allies as they support the Iraqi Security Forces drive towards Mosul. As you know our training partners from Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Italy and others are working hard to prepare Iraqi Security Forces. Indeed right now as we speak there are 6,500 ISF in training, more than at any one time during the campaign here. That’s not just army forces for the liberation of Mosul, that’s also wide area security forces –- the police – that will be needed as Daesh continue to lose control of territory and continue to devolve into terrorist and insurgent tactics.

 

The United Kingdom recently announced the embarkation of the destroyer HMS Daring to the Persian Gulf where she will provide security for our carrier based flight operations. In addition the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle will also be joining the mission in the near future and will add significant air capability as we continue shaping operations and taking the fight against Daesh.

 

      Also I wanted to share some of the work that's being done to go over -- to go after Daesh leadership figures.  Over the past 60 days coalition precision air strikes have targeted and struck more than a dozen ISIL leaders in Mosul alone.  These strikes have a disruptive effect on the enemy command and control, which is important in setting conditions for Mosul's liberation.  What we're talking about here is strikes against military commanders, safe houses, weapons facilitators, vehicle-borne IED attack coordinators, security commanders, and their operations and communication leadership.

 

      Finally, you all saw the announcement that we took a precision strike against Abu Mohammad al-Adnani last week.  Coalition forces had been training -- tracking him for a long time, knowing it was important to remove him from his role as ISIL's senior plotter for external terror attacks.  Adnani was head of ISIL's -- (inaudible) -- directorate, responsible for spying, internal messaging, and discipline, as well as planning and directing the murder of innocent men, women and children in terror -- terror attacks around the world.

 

      We're still assessing the results of that strike.  It's a rigorous process of intelligence gathering and analysis before we confirm the strike had its desired effect.  When the professionals have gone through the relevant intel -- intelligence and that process is completed, we will inform you at once.

 

      With that, I'll open it up for your questions.

 

      CAPT. DAVIS:  All right.  We'll start with Lolita Baldor from Associated Press.

 

      Q:  Hi, John.  Thanks for continuing this tradition.

 

      One quick follow up on Adnani.  Can you say at least whether the military is reasonably certain that he is dead, or fairly certain, at this point, considering what's going on?

 

      And then I have a question about Mosul.

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  Lita, thanks for that question.

 

      Unfortunately, it would be inappropriate for me to speculate.  I think we'll stay where we are now.  The intelligence professionals are going through reams of intelligence to make sure that we've got our man and we'll inform you once we have more information.

 

      Q:  Okay.  On Mosul, Lieutenant General Townsend has apparently said that he expects the campaign into Mosul to begin within the next month.  Is that the latest assessment?  And if so, is Qayyarah West ready for a larger infusion of U.S. and Iraqi forces?  When do you expect a greater number of forces to go into Qayyarah West?  And isn't that sort of a key to the start of the Mosul campaign?

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  As I've discussed this with General Townsend, what he said is the key -- this is an Iraqi-driven process -- but what he said is the key is that the Iraqi security forces have enough forces and the right kind of forces and the right training in place so that they can get ready for that liberation battle.

 

      In addition to the liberation battle, they have to get enough forces for the hold force that would follow in after the liberation.

 

      So that's really the long pole in the tent timeline-wise.  Prime Minister Abadi has come out and said that he would like to get this done within the year, and we are going to be at the Iraqi security force's side and be there to try to help pursue that. 

 

      Q:  But again, didn't he not say that he expected to begin within the next month?

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  The -- we're really -- what we're talking about here is meeting the Iraqi timeline.  So if you're going to get something done by the end of the year, this is a very tough battle.  The Mosul liberation battle for Mosul is five to six times as large as Ramadi in both area and in the number of people that are there.  So there are going to be a lot of planning considerations and a lot of troops that have to be trained in order to do that.

 

      We expect a very tough fight because the Daesh have been in that area for more than two years, so they've had a chance to build intricate defenses.  So we're going to try to meet the Iraqi timeline.

 

      Q:  I'm sorry.  Let me just give this one last shot.

 

      So are you saying Lieutenant General Townsend does not believe it will start within the next month or he does believe it could start?  I'm not saying finish or whatever.  I'm just saying that the actual campaign, if he believes that they've -- the Iraqis, as well as the coalition, will be ready to begin within the next month.  It sounds like he has said that.  I want to make sure that that's either accurate or inaccurate.

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  You know what, Lita, I think I'm going to have to leave it with you with we're going to meet the Iraqi timeline.

 

      CAPT. DAVIS:  Next to Tara Copp with Stars and Stripes.

 

      Q:  Hi colonel, Tara Copp.

 

      Just to follow up on Lita's questioning.  The Journal article today explicitly said we're starting in a month.  And is General Townsend backing off of those comments?  And then on just the sheer numbers of trained Iraqis, you said there is 6,500 in training right now.  With the -- is the Iraqi timeframe to get this kicked off in a month?  And if so, is that even possible if you still have needed forces going through the training cycle?

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  Yes, we expect the Iraqi security forces to be ready to take on this liberation battle.  So we do believe that we're more or less on plan, but ultimately, you know, if the desire is to try to get it done around the end of the year, we're going to have to start soon.  I would shy -- you know, from my perspective, I really don't want to put it on a timeline that is any more clear than we're going to meet the Iraqi timeline.

 

      Q:  And is the Iraqi timeline to get it started in a month?

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  I think I'll have to defer to the Iraqis on that.

 

      Q:  One numbers question for you.  Earlier this year, the numbers of ISIS fighters we were told were in Mosul was roughly 1,000 to 2,000.  But these most recent numbers seem to be considerably higher than that.  Have you seen more ISIS fighters flowing into Mosul?  Or is this just having better visibility?  Why the jump in numbers?

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  No.  ISIL -- ISIL has had a chance, you know, to build up intricate defenses.  They've had a chance to use ratlines to get a lot of people into and out of the area.  A lot of that has been curtailed very significantly since, you know, the last several months because while the Iraqi Security Forces are training and getting ready and doing shaping operations in and around Mosul, what we've done is we've hammered Daesh targets with airstrikes and strikes from artillery and HIMARS.

 

      So, a lot of that activity has been curtailed, but they have a chance to get a lot of forces in.  And now they're sort of pinned down there.  What we expect to shape up when the liberation battle starts is that the city will be largely enveloped, and then the Iraqis will move in on a timeline of their choosing.

 

      CAPT. DAVIS:  Next to Idrees Ali with Reuters.

 

      Q:  Thanks.

 

      So the same report that Lita and Tara mentioned, there was a bit about Raqqah and how the push had been put on hold because there was tension between Turkey and the United States.  Has the push for Raqqah been put on hold?  And is it for that reason?

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  Well, what's happened in northern Syria most recently -- what, you know, the Turkish military moving in there, and then sealing off the entire border and building a buffer zone.  That's been extraordinarily helpful and a real setback for Daesh.

 

      So, we're now working with the Turkish military and we're working with our SDF partners to come up with the game plan for the way ahead here.  You know, there was some -- some challenges between the SDF and the Turkish military for some period of time.  We're very glad to see that it's been relatively peaceful between those two.  So we've opened lines of communication and coordination to make sure that we de-conflict the things that are going on there.

 

      Ultimately, what we're trying to do is set conditions where every armed entity that wants to work with us to fight Daesh can do so, but in a manner where it's a coordinated effort and everyone can do so safely.

 

      Q:  Then a hold on the push for Raqqah, because that's what General Townsend said?

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  As far as, you know, the status of the effort against Raqqah is planning continues, as do a tremendous number of shaping operations -- a lot of the things that we've talked about with the airstrikes and strikes in general; the further reduction in freedom of movement for Daesh fighters.

 

      All that work continues at pace.  All of it.

 

      Q:  How many -- what's the estimate of ISIS fighters in Raqqah and Mosul?  The latest one?

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  Well, in -- in Mosul, we think it's anywhere from 3,000 to 4,500.  And in -- in Raqqah, we think somewhere on the order of 1,000.  But these are squishy figures and it's very difficult to tell.

 

      One of the dynamics with that is there are some hardcore fighters.  There are people that are not as committed to the fight.  There are people that are tolerant, and then there are people that wish they weren't there.

 

      So it's very difficult to give you a very accurate estimate and I think that's, you know, one of the reasons why the numbers tend to fluctuate here.

 

      CAPT. DAVIS:  Next we'll go to Kasim Ileri with Anadolu News Agency.

 

      Q:  Hi, Colonel.  Thanks for doing this.

 

      The Turkish defense minister today, after his meeting with Secretary Carter, said that Turkey would like to support the operation in Raqqah.  And then he also said that he conveyed to the secretary that Turkey will not accept PYD and YPG forces trying to exploit the Raqqah operation in order to make some territorial gains in northern Syria.  And he said Free Syrian Army should take role in Raqqah operation.

 

      What would be your assessment of those comments?

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  I have seen those comments.  What I would say is the Turkish military's actions in northern Syria have been extraordinarily helpful in sealing off that border.  And we do welcome their support and involvement.  It's been very, very helpful to what I think the entire coalition hopes to do in defeating Daesh and giving them a lasting defeat.

 

      Now, we will continue to work with our SDF partners.  But one of the key elements of this coordination is we want to make sure that we de-conflict all of our actions and make sure that this is done in a manner that doesn't result in any kind of problems or hostilities between our partners.

 

      Q:  (inaudible) -- is some sort of coordination which did conflict the Turkish military with the PYD forces.  What type of a coordination is this?  Turkish -- Turkish military and Turkish authorities are insistently denying that there is no coordination between Turkish military and the SDF or PYD elements.

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  You're correct.  The coordination is with the coalition and the Turkish military.  We talk to them every day to pursue our mutual interest in defeating Daesh.

 

      Likewise, the coalition does continue to work with the SDF, and we will, you know, a part of our role is to keep these groups that have different interests in a -- in a channel where they're coordination and communication with us, we can assure that there's not going to be a situation that results in -- in unsafe battle space.

 

      Because it is a crowded battle space.  Everyone agrees that Daesh has to be defeated.  So a very important piece of work.

 

      Q:  (inaudible) -- say that you -- you would welcome Turkish -- (inaudible) -- but Free Syrian Army forces to come down to take Raqqah or to join the Raqqah operation?

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  All those discussions are really working at a diplomatic level much higher than our operational role here.  But we do seek to have great partnerships with our ally Turkey and with the coalition members and with our other partners.  So it -- it would probably be well above my pay grade to try to broker anything with at that level.  This is -- this is operational level.  What you're talking about is a political level.

 

      Q:  Last question, Colonel, Turkish military and Free Syrian Army is now moving toward moving toward al-Bab.  What would be your reaction to that?  Would you welcome that -- that movement?

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  Yeah, what -- what the -- I'm unaware of those reports.  I haven't seen that but, you know, what -- what we're about is keeping all of the groups fighting Daesh.  That is the goal and, you know, I -- I think I probably just should leave it at that.  I'm not aware of that report.

 

      Q:  Thank you.

 

      CAPT. DAVIS:  Okay.  Next to Gordon Lubold of the Wall Street Journal.

 

      Q:  John, thanks.  Different question is -- and I many have missed it at the top -- but my understanding is that as many as 400 new troops arrived in Iraq over the weekend.  And could you kind of maybe expand on, if you already mentioned, what they're doing and where they're going and what we should know?

 

      CAPT. DAVIS:  Hmm.  I'm not sure that -- I'm not sure it's 400 over the weekend, Gordon.  I'm not sure if that's correct.  I'd have to check that in order to verify its accuracy.  I can tell you that there's a tremendous amount of work doing -- going on for training.  There's a tremendous amount of work going on to set conditions, including the logistics detail that would be required in order to go after Mosul.  And then we continue to hammer the enemy with strikes, including both artillery and air strikes.

 

      Q:  Can you tell me what the current number of -- the public number of boots on the ground in Iraq now versus what's currently authorized?

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  Yep.  The public number is 4460, and the number authorized is 4640, I believe.

 

      Q:  Was it -- was it 4460 last week, do you know?

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  I don't.  I'd have to check that.

 

      CAPT. DAVIS:  Okay.  Anything else?

 

      Q:  (inaudible)

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  -- at that time.

 

      CAPT. DAVIS:  I'm sorry.  John, we lost you at the last 15 seconds.  If you could just repeat.

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  Yep.  We were about 4,000 at that time.

 

      Q:  Which time?

 

      CAPT. DAVIS:  You were at 4,000 a week ago?

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  Yes.  That's correct.

 

      CAPT. DAVIS:  Okay.  Next to Tolga Tanis of Hurriyet.

 

      Q:  Hi, colonel.  Thanks.  I have a question on Raqqa and another question on Mosul, if I may.  First of all, you used the term of buffer zone after the -- the Turkish operation who cleared this ISIS forces from this border area.  Who will protect that buffer zone?  You think that FSA forces are enough to provide protection to this kind of buffer zone?  Or Turkish military will take a role in this?

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  Well, this -- this -- the action to create that space alone the Turkish border was extraordinarily helpful in reducing Daesh influence and ability to come into and out of that area.  The -- the manner in which that area is held, I think is probably one of the many planning points that, you know, the coalition will continue to work with the Turkish military to determine.

 

      So I don't know, is the short answer.

 

      But it is an important task, and it is important that that area be held, because holding it reduces Daesh freedom of movement and makes things extraordinarily difficult for them.

 

      Q:  You haven't asked them about the FSA forces on the ground in this pocket and do you have any contact with one of these groups?

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  I would have to get back to you on that one.

 

      Q:  So there's a Turkish presence in Bashiqa.  About this upcoming operation in Mosul, do you have any expectation from the Turkish forces in Bashiqa?

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  No and as far as the Turkish role, I would have to check and see what the role would be.  I do know that coalition forces have been extraordinarily busy setting conditions.  The Iraqi security forces have worked to envelope the city.  We've continued to do strikes, air strikes. We've continued to do training, again, 6,500 forces are in the training pipeline now.

 

      Some of those forces are being re-fit, going back through training after having worked in the liberation battles down in Ramadi and along the Euphrates River Valley.  So there is a tremendous amount of work to be done but off the top of my head, I would have to double check on the Turkish role.  We can get back to you on that.

 

      Q:  Just to clarify, Colonel, the last month.  So far the Turkish presence is in Bashiqa, wasn't coordinated with the coalition efforts.  Is this the case, is this still the case, are they still out of the coalition efforts in Bashiqa?

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  You know what I believe this is an area of an ongoing political discussion between Turkey and Iraq and that that's being worked at political level, not something that I would be in a position that I could discuss with you today.

 

      CAPT. DAVIS:  Next to Luis Martinez with ABC News.

 

      Q:  Hey John, can you confirm that in precise quotes in the Wall Street Journal article are accurate?

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  I don't have that article before me so help me, Luis.

 

      Q:  I'll get back to that in a second while I look it up but -- and I'll read them to you.  But secondly, I have another question regarding the training of these combat forces for Mosul.  You said that's pretty much done.  How many forces have been trained and how many support or hold forces -- as you referred to them -- need to be trained?

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  We expect between eight and 12 brigades to be involved in the liberation of Mosul and a like number of hold forces that would come in behind.  Now these are security forces and they're also village forces.  So very important to do the liberation battle.  Usually you like to have anywhere from three to one, to five to one advantage, and then for the hold force, that number is still being determined and we're working with the Iraqi security forces to just nail that piece of it down.

 

      Q:  And now that I have the article in front of me, if you don't mind.  In the article he said, when he described the fight for Mosul, he said, we're preparing for a hard fight, a long difficult fight.  He said really, it's a siege that I'm talking about here and he predicted that about of the third of them, the Daesh fighters, that through 2,000 and 4,500 that you mentioned, are, quote, "the hardest core fighters who will essentially die in place."

 

      While and then -- it's paraphrasing here -- that others will maybe take off and run.  But the key line as we come up here today has been about the October timeline and the article says the general predicted the move on Mosul would begin early October.

 

      Was there a quote that referenced that precisely?

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  I think there might be some clarification on that quote.  I -- yes, I -- he didn't say early October, I can tell you that.

 

      Q:  Can you tell us what he did say then?

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  I -- I think I just have to leave it at we're going to meet the government of Iraq's timeline.  I -- I don't think I could quote it from memory, but I know we didn't say early October.

 

      Q:  Okay.  Appreciate that.

 

      And can I ask you a question about the Raqqah timeline?  I know that this same article suggested that he had delayed, or that he mentioned that because of the current tensions between the Turks and the SDF forces, that that might force a delay in pushing there as well.

 

      Were his quotes there accurate as well?  Because again, those are not direct quotes in the article; those are paraphrases.

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  You know, Luis, I'm going to have to defer.  Yeah, I really don't think I could do that accurately from memory.  I don't think it would be my place to try and do that.  Yeah.

 

      Q:  To -- again, kind of related to Raqqah, has -- have the Turkish actions and the SDF's victory in Manbij really accelerated the timelines, since those are not Iraqi timelines?  Have they been accelerated inside Syria?

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  You broke up just a bit, Luis.  I'm sorry.  Can you repeat the question?

 

      Q:  Has the Turkish action along the border, plus the Manbij victory by the SDF, did that in some way accelerate the action inside Syria?

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  It would probably be inappropriate for me to speculate on that.  Certainly, both of those are positive developments that were extraordinarily helpful.  You know, the way that General MacFarland referred to the fall of Manbij was that it's the beginning of the end of Daesh presence in northern Syria.

 

      So it was key terrain, a very important area.  It was a command and control area that they were using for infiltrating and exfiltrating fighters.  There have been reams and reams of intelligence data that have come out of there, something like 20 terabytes of intelligence that we're going through.

 

      So I think, you know, the fall of Manbij is going to be a very important thing, and the Turkish involvement there, the buffer zone that they've built, the securing of that border, certainly also a very positive development and something that, you know, is going to further accelerate the campaign.

 

      But, you know, as far as how much, what timeline, I just don't think I could give you any estimate on that.

 

      Q:  Thank you.

 

      CAPT. DAVIS:  We go now to Andrew Tilghman from Military Times.

 

      Q:  Hi, colonel.

 

      Now that General Townsend has been there for a few weeks and with this new influx of troops over the past couple of weeks you've had, you're now pretty close to the force level authorization.  Is the general considering -- how does he feel about the current force level and the current authorities that he has?  And is he talking to the Iraqis about any additional forces or capabilities that might be needed for the battle of Mosul?

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  Well, the ongoing planning effort that we have with the Iraqis, we speak with them every day and try to figure out how else we can help.  If we need any other forces or need anything else that we don't have, then certainly General Townsend will be in a position where he can work through channels to ask for that.

 

      But at this point, we don't have anything to announce, no real developments in this area at all.  And certainly something like that would be done through military advice in a military channel and not announced at a Pentagon press conference.

 

      CAPT. DAVIS:  Next to Richard Sisk of Military.com.

 

      Q:  Hi, colonel.

 

      You briefly mentioned the HIMARS system earlier.  Has that now moved up to Qayyarah in -- in Iraq?  And can you say -- can you tell us anything about the reports of the use of the HIMARS last week, I believe, in support of the Turks in Syria?

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  Yeah, the HIMARS in Turkey was fired into northern Syria.  It was fired against a Daesh safehouse and the target was destroyed.  As far as -- help me with the first question, Richard?

 

      Q:  The HIMARS system -- has that moved up to Qayyarah West?

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  As -- as far as the location for where those HIMARS are kept, I don't think that I could give you that in the interest of operational security because doing so would just be inappropriate.

 

      Q:  The HIMARS did fire earlier this week in support of the Pesh.  Did you not say that before?

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  I'd have to check.  I'll -- I'd have to check our strike releases on that.

 

      CAPT. DAVIS:  Okay.  Paul Shinkman with U.S. News.

 

      Q:  Yes, colonel.  Good morning.

 

      Just to follow up on your response to Luis' question.  You said that there were going to be eight to 12 brigades necessary to liberate Mosul.  Can you say how many brigades are currently ready?  How many are left to be trained?

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  I think I'm going to have to owe that to you.  I can tell you we've got about 6,500 troops in the training pipeline now.  I don't have that figure of the number of brigades in the training pipeline.

 

      Q:  If you could get that, that would be great.

 

      And then moving over to the U.S. presidents -- or presence, can you say how many TDY troops are in Iraq?

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  I'm afraid I can't.  We don't give out that number.  It's a set of business rules that's been in place for about 15 years.  By the time I went and researched that number, the number would be different than -- than, you know.  By the time I gave it to you, the number would be different than whatever number I was able to get.

 

      A lot of those forces are -- are special operations forces and that's why we can't give out that number in the interest of OPSEC.

 

      Q:  Okay.  We've seen reports of surges in the number of TDY troops for previous large offensives like Qayyarah, for example.  With Mosul being the biggest operation that the Iraqi security forces will have had to date, do you anticipate there will be a greater number of TDY troops?

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  It would be inappropriate to speculate.  I'm sorry.  Just can't help with that one.

 

      (CROSSTALK)

 

      Q:  (inaudible) -- are we talking about only ISF, Colonel?  Or are you including the Peshmerga forces as well?

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  Having a little bit of difficulty hearing you.

 

      (CROSSTALK)

 

      CAPT. DAVIS:  He was asking you if you're talking about the brigades that remain to be trained, if they're just ISF or if those include Pesh as well.

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  Those include Pesh as well.

 

      CAPT. DAVIS:  I don't know if you heard, he said he asked you how many of the brigades were Pesh?

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  Two.

 

      CAPT. DAVIS:  And, Thomas, did you have a follow-up?

 

      Other than that, queue is empty.  Yes, Lita, go ahead.

 

      Q:  John, considering the amount of interest in the two quotes by Lieutenant General Townsend in the Wall Street Journal today, could you take that question, go back and give us some help here on whether or not we should or should not also report that he said the fight for Mosul would begin in early October.

 

      We need some clarification on what he said and, or whether what he said is something he's going to clarify or he's backing off of or -- I think we really a little bit of clarification on that if you can go back and get that for us.

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  Certainly.  I'll do so.

 

      CAPT. DAVIS:  Okay, last call.  Going once, going twice.  John, thank you very much for your time and anything else for us to close with?

 

      COL. DORRIAN:  No, a lot of good work happening here.  Our troops, are -- they have great morale.  They're taking the fight to Daesh and we really believe that we're going to successful in helping the Iraqis liberate their country, and the Syrians as well.

 

      CAPT. DAVIS:  All right, thank you, everybody.

 

-END-



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