Operation Inherent Resolve

 
Transcripts

Department of Defense Press Briefing by Col. Warren

By | December 22, 2015

MAJOR J.B. BRINDLE:  Sir, we have your slides, and the press corps is anxious for your opening comments.  So without further ado, please go ahead.

COLONEL STEVE WARREN:  Thanks.

Sorry to keep you guys waiting.  I'm doing this a little bit differently this time over the phone, but I think it will work.  So forgive the delay.  I've got a few prepared comments that I'll work through, and then we'll get to questions.  And we'll start with Ramadi.

Today, ISF forces in the southern access bridged the Euphrates River.  Specifically, they crossed the Tharthar Canal which is south of the Euphrates -- it's a branch off Euphrates created by a dam.  Using equipment called an improved ribbon bridge, ISF have moved combat power north into Ramadi's central neighborhoods.

The bridge itself was provided by the coalition's ITAF program and training on bridging operations was carried out by the 814th Multirole Bridging Company which is home-based in Fort Polk, Louisiana.  You can see video of the 814th training Iraqis at the @OIRSpox Twitter site which I think we're posting it right now.

In the last 24 hours, coalition airpower has delivered 33 munitions in direct support of offensive operations in Ramadi.  We're encouraged by this tactical development, which is a continuation of the progress we've seen over the last several weeks.  There's still tough fighting ahead in Ramadi's dense urban terrain, but let's take a -- take a moment and look at the map.

So if you can pull up Ramadi map number one.  This is kind of an overview of Ramadi.  What you see here.  Up north, down is south.  To the left is west and of course, east is off to the right.  You see in the upper left hand corner that point, which is part of downtown Ramadi.

In the lower right hand quadrant of your map, you see, identify the Al Ramadi East Train Station.  That's just a reference point for you.  So what we have -- I'm not going to tell you exactly where the improvement bridge is, but what I'll tell you is that Iraqi security forces crossed the river from west to east, so from the left to the right.

And have staged along -- you can sort of see that main road that goes from the left side of the map to the right side of the map.  It crosses the river there towards the bottom of your map.  That actual man-made bridge is destroyed.  But that is where the Iraqi Security Forces are now amassing their combat power.

They're beginning to push north into downtown Ramadi.  Switch to the next map.  Now, what I've done here -- actually, go back to the first map.  If you look -- so we should be on the first map now.  If you look at where it says Al Ramadi East Train Station, about, just above that -- those words, you see a triangular shaped piece of terrain there.  It's bordered on the north and the south and the west by roads.

It forms a point towards the right side of your map in the east.  Okay, so the next map is a pull out of that piece of terrain.  And I just picked that randomly, but the reason I selected it is to show you the density of this urban terrain.  As you can see, buildings are very tightly packed in there; narrow roads, in some cases, winding roads. Any one of those buildings can be wired and booby trapped to explode.  And so, I wanted to show you this only because I think it give a sense for what the Iraqi Security Forces are up against in Ramadi now.  There's still a long way to go before we can declare Ramadi is completely clear.  There is a lot of dense terrain here that needs to be negotiated.

Okay.  That's the end of my Ramadi piece for now.  The other thing I'd like to talk about is that coalition airstrikes supported the Iraqi Security Forces as they clear through the Makhoul Mountains, which is north of Baiji.  And if we need to, we can pull up our map that has the red on it and the stars and circles and take a closer look.

But, pretty much, everyone knows where Baiji is.  North of Baiji, we have the Makhoul Mountains.  The Makhoul Mountains still have enemy, ISIL activity in them.  In fact, we could look to the strike on Sunday where we saw the enemy beginning to mass, we thought was probably for an attempted attack into the Baiji oil refinery area.

We were able to spot the enemy as they were coming together, strike hard and kill a fairly large number of them.  Moving over to Syria, there were some operations along the Mara Line over the last several days, where opposition forces successfully seized Kar-Al-Mansoura late yesterday.

That operation was aided by four strikes against four separate ISIL tactical units, so continued pressure in Syria.

The other thing I'd like to talk about is that in the eastern Syrian deserts, we continue with Operation Tidal Wave II, attacking the ISIL illicit oil network.  On December 19th, the coalition dealt a significant blow to their oil revenue by striking five gas and oil separation points, as well as two crude oil collection points near al-Raqqa, which is circle three on our map, which we don't have up right now.

This strike was the largest deliberate or pre-planned strike that the coalition has conducted since the start of the operation.  Twenty fighters, bombers and other attack aircraft from three nations were involved in this strike, and dropped more than 140 munitions.  We're still assessing the results.  We anticipate this strike, when combined with other Tidal Wave II strikes, will constitute a significant impact on the ISIL oil revenue stream.

So we do -- so when we conducted these strikes, there was some cloud cover and we weren't able to get a video that was usable, but we did get some satellite passes the next day.  So we have some before and after photos.  So if we can pull up the Tidal Wave before and after photo, what you'll see there on the left is the before, and obviously on the right is after.

What I think is notable is on the right-hand side in the after photo, you can see a little -- it looks like a little hut or a trailer or something that's up there.  And that -- I'm glad that shows up on this photo because it really shows you the type of precision that we are able to achieve with our -- with our weaponry.  You can see the -- the gas and oil separation point is just -- it is just nothing more than a greasy spot in the desert now, but that -- that trailer is still standing.

So, I think that's a testament to the capability of our technology and to the skill of our pilots.

There we go.  So this also serves as a good reminder that we continue to apply pressure to ISIL across the breadth and the depth of their so-called caliphate.  We attack them where we find them.  We attack them when we find them.  And we also plan some of these very significant deliberate targets.

Before we finish up, I have two other interesting bits of information that I want to share with you that may demonstrate that ISIL is beginning to feel some of this pressure that we've been applying to them.  So I think JB has got some handouts for you.  I don't know if we have this -- the photos or not, but we can hand them out in hard copy to everyone.

It's two documents that we recovered in operations around Fallujah.  The first one is a document that ISF recovered from an ISIL unit.  And what this document is, is it provides ISIL fighters with instructions on how to behave when they withdraw from Fallujah.  The document appears to be a formal order directing ISIL's fighters to impersonate Iraqi security forces and to commit atrocities against the civilian population before they withdraw.

The fighters in this order are directed to film their actions, distribute the videos, and to do all this in order to discredit both the ISF and the government of Iraq.  Some of the acts that they're instructed to do on this -- on this document, and we have a translation for you as well, include blowing up mosques, killing and torturing civilians, breaking into homes, and do it all while dressed as ISF or Popular Mobilization Force fighters.  And they do this all in order to place blame and to discredit them.

Clearly, this isn't the behavior of a legitimate government or of a legitimate military force, it's the behavior of thugs, it's the behavior of killers and it's the behavior of terrorists.

So the other document that we have that I wanted to show you there's been some reporting on this particular document, at least in the local press here, and it's an ISIL ban on people who live inside their caliphate from watching television or from buying, installing or repairing satellite systems.  ISIL claims that this ban is to protect them from corrupting their faith, that those living inside the caliphate who are found to be violating this order says that they'll face punishment and embarrassment.

So the reason I bring this up is to illustrate where ISIL is right now, and I would submit to you that we're starting to see a change in their behavior that may be related to some desperation. They appear to be trying to hide information regarding the recent string of defeats as we continue to kill their leaders, to increase the security capacity of our regional partners and to strike them across the battlefield and all of their formation.  It seems like they're beginning to feel the pressure.  So I wanted to share those documents with you.

This concludes my prepared remarks as well as my editorialization throughout.  And I'll now take your questions.  Bob or Lita, who's first?

Q:  Hi Steve, it's Lita.  Good to see you the other day.

Just on Ramadi, can you give us just a broader progress report about how many Ramadi -- how many Iraqi troops are inside Ramadi?  Are there still Islamic State and other fighters there?  What -- can you give us a little bit more granularity on what they're finding as they're in there?

COL. WARREN:  Yeah.  So I guess just a couple of things.

First off, I mean, the most important point here on this Ramadi piece is this really is a continuation of the progress that we've seen over the last couple of weeks.  You know, three weeks ago, they were able to seize Camp Wararr, two weeks ago, they were able to move into the southern portion of Ramadi, a week-and-a-half ago, they began to clear the Al Tarmia District.  They seized the Palestine bridge and pushed south into the Anbar operations center.

So what they're finding now is exactly what they found over the last several weeks, which is booby-traps, IEDs, the presence of enemy fighters who are fighting fairly hard.  The numbers are really high, I wouldn't say, but, you know, in that restricted terrain that I showed you a photo of, you can see how it's not very easy to maneuver through that terrain.  And so it doesn't take much in the way of defensive capability to hold, you know, the attackers -- in this case, the ISF and the CTS -- to hold them back.

So, you know, we're continuing to see them move through, we're working you see the ISF try to get civilians out of there.  The ISF dropped some leaflets over the weekend.  I sent a leaflet back to [Major] JB Brindle, he can share that with you as well.  You know, it's simply a leaflet that, you know, encouraged civilians to seek shelter and gave them some routes out of the city where they could get to ISF forces who would help them.

Q:  And do you have any casualty assessments, either --

COL. WARREN:  I don't have a casualty assessment yet.  I have not seen any reports of casualties, which is great, although sometimes the casualty reports lag a little bit.  But thus far, while there has been fighting and in some cases, fairly dynamic and in spots, fairly tense fighting, we haven't yet had any reports of ISF casualties.

Q:  Thank you.

MAJOR BRINDLE:  Bill?

Q:  Hey, Steve.  Quick question on -- on the leaflet you intercepted in Fallujah, do you have any sense whether that -- I mean, does the United States believe that is an actual, legitimate Islamic state document?  And have you ever seen instances in the past where Islamic state has actually impersonated -- that you believe the Islamic state has actually impersonated Iraqi security forces?  Because it would be easy to believe that this may not be a legitimate document.

COL. WARREN:  Yes, yes.  I have not seen that, but it's certainly easy for me to believe it is in fact a legitimate document, because this is the type of behavior that we're used to seeing from these guys.  But I don't have any document examples of ISIL posing as ISF and committing atrocities yet.  I do not have that.

Q:  Thank you.

MAJOR BRINDLE:  Jamie?

Q:  Steve, it's Jamie McIntyre.  Two questions for you.

One is about is -- among the ISF forces that are attacking -- watching the counter-offensive in Ramadi, are there any Shia fighters or Shia militias in there?  And there seems to be a perception in Baghdad that the United States specifically requested that Shia fighters be excluded from the force.  Is that true?  And I have a follow-up.

COL. WARREN:  There are not any Shia forces participating in the Ramadi operation.  These are decisions that the Iraqi government makes.  You know, we have acknowledged the presence of Shia fighters.  You know, we've acknowledged that they participated in Baiji and others, a little bit in Tikrit.

But it's the Iraqi government who decides how to position and where to position force on the battlefield.  That's not a decision that we make.

And what's your follow-up?

Q:  But just to be clear, and I just -- before I ask my second question, just to be clear, was that decision by the Iraqi government, did that come after a request from the U.S. that no Shia fighter be included in the force?  Was there such a request?

COL. WARREN:  Well, Jamie, again, it's their decision, you know, our -- our diplomatic discussions and military discussions we'll generally keep private.  But at the end of the day, this is a decision that the Iraqi government makes on how to position their forces on the battlefield.

Q:  Okay.  My other question is, I've noticed that you've recently begun describing the effects of the airstrikes and the number of munitions dropped.  And I'm wondering if that's in reaction at all to the way the -- the Russians described their airstrikes in Syria, which makes it sound like they're doing a greater number of airstrikes because of the way they seem to count theirs and the way we count ours?  I mean, is that a conscious decision to start talking about how many munitions dropped as opposed to how many airstrikes conducted?

COL. WARREN:  Jamie, we list the number of airstrikes conducted every day on our daily strike releases.  I've started incorporating some other ways of counting just really more as a way to give you guys a little additional color so you can help understand the size.

I mean, for me, it started with the -- with the fight up in north of Mosul last week where one airstrike, you know, killed about 180 enemy fighters and, you know, we released over 100 munitions.

And I just felt like saying, one airstrike didn't quite accurately describe the intensity of the airpower that was brought to bear, but I felt like describing the munitions was a better way to communicate what actually happened.

So, no, not really in response to the Russians or to anybody, I think it's just using a different set of words to help provide a more accurate description of actions that are going on.

MAJOR JB BRINDLE:  Cami.

Q:  Hi, Steve, it's Cami.  I have a couple of questions for you.  First, in regard to the civilians, how confident you are that they can get out of Ramadi, even though you have suggested some routes, how this complicates the U.S. airstrikes there.

And secondly, how long -- well, I guess, secondly, how close are American advisers to what is going on in Ramadi?

COL. WARREN:  So, the closest Americans to the Ramadi fight are in the Al-Taqaddum, where they have been throughout this fight.

The civilians, you know, of course we're concerned about the civilians.  You know, we are not in this business to harm civilians, but as then you saw with the oil strike, you know, our ability to target with precision is breath-taking.

So, we keep a close eye out for civilian populations in Ramadi.  We take great care with every strike we take.

That said, you know, we won't strike if we think a strike is going to cause significant civilian harm.  I mean, that is just the facts.  Which is why you have to have ground forces in cooperation and in coordination with airpower, because when airpower won't work for any one of several reasons, one of which is the presence of civilians, then you have to send ground forces in there, who are more able to maneuver around civilians.

Q:  How confident are you that a large number of civilians can get out of Ramadi?

COL. WARREN:  Well, I don't have a percentage of confidence, but you know, it's tough.  It's going to be hard for them.  In the leaflet that the ISF dropped, it gives the civilian population some ways out, but it's going to be hard for them, there is no question about it.

Now, that said, you know, as the tide begins to turn in Ramadi, and you know, there really is only a limited number of ISIL fighters there -- several hundred, we think, at the most -- it will be more and more -- it will be increasingly difficult for those -- those ISIL fighters to be able to control the civilian population.

You know, as -- as you know, the inevitability of the ISF's movement into Ramadi becomes more and more clear to both the civilian population and the enemy there, that's going to be, I think, easier, probably, for the civilians to just break and go.

You know, ISIL is able to hold the civilians largely through fear, right?  You know, it's fear that enables only several hundred ISIL to hold several thousand civilians, or more, in Ramadi in the first place.

Well, as the airpower intensifies, as the Iraqi Security Forces draw closer in, as the pressure builds, it stands to reason that that -- the civilian population will soon realize that the end is near, and be a little bit less fearful of ISIL's ability to hold them.

Q:  Hey, Colonel Warren.  This is Kristina.  How are you?

COL. WARREN:  Hi, Kristina.  How are you?

Q:  Good, good.  Thanks.

How imminent is the fall of Ramadi now?  And what does the whole force look like after ISIS is pushed out?  And will Shia militia have any part in securing the city afterwards?

COL. WARREN:  I think the fall of Ramadi is inevitable.  You know, the end is coming.  But that said, it's going to be a tough fight.  You know, you saw how dense the urban terrain is and how much of it that there is to be covered.

So, the Iraqi security forces still have much work to do; still have hard fighting ahead of them, and it's going to take some time.

The hold force, there's no Shia as part of the hold force.  The hold force is largely Sunni tribal fighters who've been trained at Al-Taqaddum and some other places, as well as Anbar police -- local police that have been trained by our Italian Carabinieri coalition partners.  The Italian Carabinieri have been training both local and federal police now for some time.  They've trained some 100 of them already.  And we've trained several thousand Sunni tribal volunteers.

So that would really be the core of the hold force.  There will probably be some ISF involved as well.  And then part of the stabilization -- the stabilization force, that's where we see some of the U.N. agencies and some of the State Department personnel, USAID, come to bear both by providing resources and advice.

So the hold force, largely Sunni tribal militia or Sunni tribal fighters and Anbari police, both of whom have been trained by various pieces of the coalition, and then augmented by a little bit of ISF and then supplemented by aid agencies.

Q:  Colonel, this is Laurent from AFP.

The French defense minister was in Moscow yesterday and he met with his Russian counterpart.  And they agreed to share information on what's going on on the ground in Syria operation -- (inaudible) -- information.  Do you think that could help the fight against ISIL?  Or are you -- are you worried that the -- that the French might give information to the Russians?

COL. WARREN:  It's too soon to tell if it will be of any help.  You know, the agreement was only made within the last 24 hours.  We are not concerned.  We are confident that the French will protect information appropriately.

Q:  Hey, Steve, It's Courtney.  I have just two questions about your opening comments, one clarification.

So the document that -- that allegedly ISIS is handing out that tells them -- the fighters to impersonate ISF, was that -- did the U.S. translate it -- -- into English?  It was not distributed in English?

(CROSSTALK)

COL. WARREN:  Yeah, it was it was translated by some of our translators here.  It was originally distributed in Arabic.  And I think I said both the original Arabic that we recovered, as well as a translation.

Q:  Okay.  My Arabic -- I couldn't read it.

Q:  Another thing, so on this Tidal Wave II strike that you mentioned, the separation points -- (inaudible).  Why -- how is that larger than the one that struck all of the trucks?

You said it was the largest one since the beginning of Tidal Wave II?  Was that -- didn't he strike, like, 280 trucks a week, two weeks ago?

COL. WARREN:  Yes, okay.  So two things.

Number one, I threw the translation up on my twitter site, @OIRSpox.

Number two, on the size of this strike, yes.  So, the trucks were largely destroyed by bullets, not by bombs.  Although we did use bombs against the trucks as well.  Largely we used bullets for that, the 30-millimeter gun on the Spectre gunship and on the A-10s.

So, I suppose if we counted every bullet fired off of those A-10s, then there would have been more rounds to expend it during the truck mission.

But as far as actual munition bombs, this Tidal Wave strike the other day was the largest.

Q:  So, it was the largest 'cause you dropped 140 munitions? 

COL. WARREN:  Right.

Q:  Why did it take -- if there were seven -- look, seven targets.  Why does it take 140 munitions?

COL. WARREN:  So, a target can often have impact points, what we call JDPIs, which is impact points.  So, let's say you have -- I'll just make something up.

Let's say you have a warehouse that's maybe 100 meters long and 25 meters wide.  What you'll want to do is drop a 500-pound bomb, you know, every, say, 20 meters across the building, that warehouse, to effectively destroy it, if that makes sense.

So what you'll do is imagine a rectangle that represents the roof of that warehouse.  And then we'll put maybe six bombs on that thing, right?  Three along the left-hand side of that rectangle and three along the right-hand side of that rectangle to destroy it.

So it's one target with six bombs used to destroy it.  And that one warehouse, of course, could be one piece of a complex.  And let's say there were four warehouses in that complex.  So that one aircraft which would drop several bombs on each warehouse in that complex, that would be one strike.  Does that make sense?

Q:  Yes.  Yes, thank you.

COL. WARREN:  Anyone else?

 

COL. WARREN:  Gary.

Q:  Yes, hi, Steve.  Just a quick one.

Did the Iraqis ever request the use of attack helicopters as SECDEF offered the other week?

COL. WARREN:  They haven't requested the use of Apaches for this operation.  No, they have not.

Margaret.

Q:  Steve, hi.  It's (Margaret Brennan from CBS).

Do you have an estimate on the size of the ISIS force?  The size that's in Ramadi?

And have you seen the kind of deliberate use of human shields, particularly children, that we've heard about in the past?

COL. WARREN:  I'm sorry, can you move a little closer?  I couldn't quite hear you.

Q:  Do you have an estimate of the ISIS force in Ramadi?

And are you seeing the deliberate use of civilian shields, particularly children, that we've heard about in the past?

COL. WARREN:  Yes.  So, our rough estimate is between 250 and 350 fighters still remaining in the Ramadi city center.  Of course, we know that there are several hundred, you know, outside of this parameter, kind of up in the north and to the west.

We have not yet had any reports of ISIL using human shields, but we still are early on the reporting cycle.  We surely hope that's not the case but we wouldn't put it past them.

Q:  Hi, Colonel. 

You mentioned about the airstrikes in Mara.  I'm wondering if there is any ground forces that you are cooperating on this.

COL. WARREN:  Hey, along the Mara Line, there are forces that we trained in our Syria train and equip program that came to an end earlier in the year.  So we have forces that have been trained and equipped by the U.S. during that program, which are operating along the Mara Line, and are really playing a key and critical role in helping direct our aircraft to conduct effective strikes.

Q:  And how many people are we talking about?

COL. WARREN:  Well, I'm not going to put the numbers out.  You know, we have been public about how many total have been trained and we believe are still in the fight.  I'm not going to give you the specific numbers that are in the Mara Line area.

Q:  Do they have any names?  I mean, do they have any -- they give a name -- (inaudible) -- of the region Turkey, still, or --

COL. WARREN:  Do they have -- I'm sorry, say that again?

Q:  Is there any particular name for the group?  Or do they join several different groups, or are they acting all together, still?  Or they joined different groups?  Or is there any particular group that they are talking about for the -- the – train and equip.

COL. WARREN:  Well, I mean, we're calling them new Syrian forces that we trained.  You know, they -- they obviously liaise, and coordinate and work in conjunction with any of the several other groups that are there operating in the Mara Line area.

Q:  Are they acting together?

COL. WARREN:  Yes.

Q:  Thanks.

MAJOR BRINDLE:  Louis.

Q:  Hey, Colonel, it's Luis -- Luis here with a question about the friendly strike.  That said, do you have any more information about the numbers involved, and what the circumstances were?

COL. WARREN:  About which strike, Luis?

Q:  The friendly strike one, from earlier this week?

COL. WARREN:  Yeah, hold on a second.

Yeah, so that's been -- that's the -- you're talking about the strike that took place Friday near Fallujah, where coalition aircraft inadvertently may have struck some Iraqi Security Forces that was in close combat with an ISIL force.

So, we were acting on requests and information from Iraqi Security Forces on the ground near Fallujah.  Our aircraft conducted several airstrikes against ISIL during the time.  You know, initial reports indicate that one of those strikes may have resulted in the deaths of some Iraqi soldiers.

It's an ongoing investigation, the coalition investigation team has been identified and are beginning their work now.  It's an ongoing investigation, so I'm not really going to be able to comment much further on that incident.  But we're committed to getting to the bottom of it, and we want to prevent this kind of thing from ever happening again.

When we do have results of the investigation, of course, we will provide them.

Q:  May I follow up, please?

COL. WARREN:  Sure.

Q:  Steve, you said, may have resulted.  Is there some skepticism about the reports that Iraqi forces were struck by friendly fire?

COL. WARREN:  No, but as is always the case, while an investigation is ongoing, you know, we use words like "allegedly" and "may have" until we complete the investigation and there is no longer any question.

Q:  Just to return to Ramadi quickly, how many civilians -- what is the estimate of the number of civilians that remain in Ramadi?

COL. WARREN:  Yeah, that's a great question, Mik.  And we unfortunately don't have a good answer.  We know it's in the thousands, possibly in the tens of thousands, but it's been a difficult number for us to get an accurate picture of, unfortunately.

Q:  Hi, Steve.  It's Lita again.

Can you give us some general update on the number of Turkish forces that may or may not be remaining in northern Iraq?

COL. WARREN:  So, the Turkish forces that are there are on a national mission.  And, you know, we're happy to see that there's been some discussions between the Turks and the Iraqis, and that the Turks have announced repositioning of those forces.

I don't have good numbers for you; probably wouldn't put them out even if I did.  Really, we have to let the Turks kind of speak to their actions up there in northern Iraq.

Q:  Have you seen any actual repositioning?

COL. WARREN:  We have seen some repositioning.  Again, I won't really go into the details on it.  It's just not right -- you know, that -- what's going on there is simply not part of this operation, and so we have to let the nations speak for themselves on that.

Q:  Can I ask one more question?  Why publish the translation of the flyer that you found in Fallujah?  And do you anticipate that might happen in Ramadi, where you have ISIS posing as civilians?

COL. WARREN:  Well, it's impossible to know.  You know, certainly, they've demonstrated willingness to issue such orders.  Beyond that, we simply don't know.

Q:  Can I ask a follow up to Turkish forces.  There are some heavy clashes between ISIS forces and Peshmerga in the region.  Is the coalition any -- somehow involved with those clashes to help the Peshmerga forces on the ground?

COL. WARREN:  Absolutely.  The -- there was a recent offensive operation conducted by ISIL in that area.  Coalition air power was brought to bear in what can only be described as -- with devastating effects; killed over 180 enemy fighters from the air.  That doesn't even count how many that the Peshmerga killed on the ground; expended almost 100 -- dropped almost 100 bombs; expended 100 munitions during that fight.

It lasted from about four p.m. until about nine a.m. the next morning.  So it was a fairly significant fight, but coalition air power was there throughout, and really successful.  You know, I think the important thing to note here on this is that this was a big swing by ISIL.  Right?  I mean, they took a big swing and really were thwarted.  I mean, they were -- were crushed against solid Peshmerga defenses and dynamic air operations by this coalition.

Q:  Is this -- I mean, is this the first time that –since the invasion that the attack conducted by the ISF -- (inaudible)?  Because they were defending -- (inaudible) -- so far.  Is it a new tactic for ISIL?

COL. WARREN:  I don't know whether it's a new tactic.

I mean, it's a war.  So, you know, part of a war is conducting attacks.  It's the largest one that we've seen, really, since Ramadi fell back in -- I guess it was May.  So this is certainly the largest one we've seen.

We saw one fairly large up in that region back in July, but it wasn't quite this big, both of which, you know, were -- were beaten back by Peshmerga and coalition air.

MAJOR BRINDLE:  Anyone else?

Q:  Is there a briefing next week, Steve?

COL. WARREN:  I think we're going to do it the same way next week because I lot of folks are on leave and it's -- it's hard to get all the -- the media stuff up.  So yes, we'll do this again next Tuesday on the phone and hopefully, we'll get our products ready early enough so we don't have to start late.

Thank you, guys.  I -- I -- guys, I won't see you through Christmas, so I hope everyone has a really happy and merry Christmas with friends, family and loved ones.  Take care.


Staying Connected