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NEWS | June 14, 2017

Department of Defense Press Briefing by Major General Joseph Martin via teleconference from Baghdad, Iraq

By CJTF-OIR Public Affairs

CAPTAIN JEFF DAVIS:  Good morning, everybody. 

And Tom, as soon as we can get him up on the screen here, we'll get started. 

Okay.  We've got him.  General Martin, good morning.  We want to make sure we can hear you and you can hear us. 

MAJOR GENERAL JOSEPH MARTIN:  I can hear you loud and clear.  How about me? 

CAPT. DAVIS:  Yes, sir.  We've got you. 

Ladies and gentlemen, pleased to be joined today by Major General Joseph Martin.  He's the CJFLCC, the commander of the Combined Land Forces Component Command for Operation Inherent Resolve, coming to us today. 

Sir, I -- I -- I assume you're in Baghdad.  Is that right? 

GEN. MARTIN:  That's correct. 

CAPT. DAVIS:  To you for any opening remarks, and then take questions from here. 

GEN. MARTIN:  Okay.  Good morning. 

I'm Joe Martin.  I'm the commander of the Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command, which includes all the coalition ground forces in Iraq.  And I also command the 1st Infantry Division out of Fort Riley, Kansas, which means I'm a "big red one" soldier. 

As we celebrate our Army's 242nd birthday, I want to congratulate the Iraqi security forces on their tremendous progress against ISIS.  The fight to liberate Mosul from ISIS brutality has been hard-fought and long.  It cost the lives of many brave Iraqi security forces personnel and many innocent civilians. 

The coalition honors the sacrifice of every single soldier and civilian lost in the fight to free Iraq from a brutal enemy.  However, that fight is not over. 

Many Iraqis remain under the domination of ISIS terror.  Coalition stands united side by side with the Iraqi government and the people.  We will continue to support them until all the Iraqis are liberated and the country is free to choose its own future. 

Since last October, ISF have liberated -- liberated hundreds of thousands of civilians in Mosul, and life is returning to normal in portions of the city. 

I recently walked the streets of East and West Mosul and I saw for myself that markets and their businesses are reopening.  Civilians are moving around the city and living their lives. 


GEN. MARTIN:  That support includes coalition advisers who live in -- 


GEN. MARTIN:  -- defeat this threat. 

There is still tough fighting ahead and the coalition will go anywhere the Iraqis go.  The military defeat of ISIS in Iraq is inevitable and we will help the Iraqis achieve that. 

It's incredible to see the progress the Iraqis have made, liberating over 3 million civilians in the last two years, and freeing a city the size of Philadelphia.  The ISF have taken the fight to the enemy and sacrificed their blood for the people of Iraq.  I'm honored to serve by their side in this endeavor. 

We know that victory in Mosul is not the end as there's still tough fighting ahead. 

But with that, I'll be happy to take your questions. 

CAPT. DAVIS:  Carla Babb from Voice of America. 

Q:  Hi, General.  Thanks for doing this. 

First, I just want to do a little housekeeping question for you.  How many U.S. troops do you have in Iraq serving underneath you? 

GEN. MARTIN:  Carla, thanks for your question.

Typically, I don't talk about the numbers.  What I'll tell you is we have everybody that we need. 

The specific numbers in many cases are classified, and so I don't talk about specific numbers. 

Q:  People need to know how many of its U.S. service members are in that country.  And we used to get that number. 

But that aside, can you give us an update on what's left to take control of from Islamic State in Mosul?  Where are they fighting right now?  Are they down to three neighborhoods still, or have they closed in even further? 

GEN. MARTIN:  If you could hang on a second.  We've got an announcement. 

I'm -- I'm sorry, Carla.  We'll have to go intermittently here.  We're -- we've got a public-address announcement within the -- the embassy complex.  And there's no emergency; it's just a -- it's just a drill.  So, we'll work our way through that. 

So, you're asking what's left in West Mosul, is that correct? 

Q:  Correct, sir. 

GEN. MARTIN:  Okay, so, what's left in West Mosul is one district in Old Mosul itself.  So, if you're familiar with the layout of West Mosul, the ISF are on the boundaries -- the western boundaries of the al-Shifa District.  And once they clear the al-Shifa District, they'll have the -- Old Mosul remaining. 

And so it's those two principal areas that remain. 

The ISF continue to progress each and every day.  We stand by their side providing them joint coalition fires.  And their progress has been steady.  It's tough fighting.  It's slow from time to time.  But it's metered by the diversity of the terrain and the stiff resistance they face or they don't face, but each day there's progress. 

Q:  A quick follow up.  That one district, is that still what has been referred to by others as "three neighborhoods"?  Or has it shrunk -- has the territory shrunk with that steady progress that you just mentioned over the past week? 

GEN. MARTIN:  So, I think what you're talking about is the two other districts.  I -- I can't tell you, Carla, exactly what you're talking about.  They just recently cleared Sinjali, which is the northern-most portion that was recently cleared, and then Bab-Sinjar. 

And so as the Iraqi security forces continue their operations, they've got al-Shifa District, which is across from both of those districts as they move east towards the Tigris. 

CAPT. DAVIS:  Okay.  Next to Idrees Ali from Reuters. 

Q:  (inaudible) I mean, in terms of the timeline, what are you thinking in terms of completing the clearing out in Mosul?  Are you thinking the next couple of days, weeks?  It seems like it's, you know, almost there but not there completely. 

GEN. MARTIN:  I'm sorry.  I didn't get your name, but thanks for the question. 

It's tough to tell how long it will take.  And the reason it's tough to tell is because the terrain continues to change.  ISIS becomes more desperate.  And it's just tough to say how long it will take.  That being said, I think the end is inevitable.  Liberation of Mosul is inevitable.  The -- the defeat of ISIS in their caliphate in the east is inevitable.  And things returning to normal is inevitable as well. 

CAPT. DAVIS:  Okay.  Next to Ryan Browne from CNN.

Q:  Hi, General.  Thanks. 

I just had a question on kind of after Mosul.  You made it very clear that Mosul will not be the end by any stretch of the imagination in the ISIS campaign.  What is kind of seen as the next key target opportunity after Mosul that ISIS still controls?  What is considered kind of the biggest threat that ISIS still controls?  And what -- where do you see kind of the -- the campaign progressing to? 

GEN. MARTIN:  Well, thanks for your question. 

It's tough to tell exactly where we'll go next, but if you look at there's other areas in Iraq, urban areas, that have yet to be liberated.  And so lots of work to do.  The city of Tal Afar comes to mind; the city of Hawijah.  And then when you move down to the Euphrates River valley, you get cities -- smaller cities but still cities nevertheless of Rihana, Rawah, Al-Qaim and Husaiba along the border of Iraq and Syria. 

And so those areas will have to be cleared.  Where the Iraqis go will be their choice.  And of course, we'll wait for that choice.  I can't speculate as to what their next objective will be.  But it will probably be another urban environment, continuing to set conditions for defeating Daesh across Iraq. 

And we'll be there right beside their side, providing them joint and coalition fires each and every day, and our advisorship as well. 

Q:  Just to follow up, you mentioned the Euphrates kind of River valley area.  I know you're really responsible for just Iraq, but there's kind of that contiguous ISIS control between Syria-Euphrates River valley and the Iraqi area.  Is there any -- is the coalition kind of encouraging their Iraqi partners to focus on that area to kind of provide a two-front assault against ISIS in the Euphrates River valley? 

GEN. MARTIN:  Well, you bring up a great question.  We're a partner force.  And so with -- as being a partner force, the first thing you've got to do to really succeed is you've got to subordinate yourself, your time and your agenda to your partner's agenda. 

And so, that will be the choice of the Iraqis as to where they go next and when they go to the Euphrates River valley, which eventually will happen.  But they haven't made that choice yet.  So we'll wait and see.  And we will, in a very flexible way, respond to their course of action and support it just the way we've supported them for the past eight months in Mosul.

CAPT. DAVIS:  Next to Kasim Ileri, Anadolu News Agency. 

Q:  Hi, General.  Thanks for doing this. 

In those two quarters in Mosul, in districts, the al-Shifa and Old Mosul, how many ISIS fighters do you think are there currently in those two districts? 

GEN. MARTIN:  Okay.  I wish I could tell you how many fighters are left.  With regret, I tell you that ISIS is not cooperating with us on telling us how many they have left.  But that being said, we have estimates, but they're only estimates.  And so, the one thing I could tell you about the number of ISIS fighters that exist in west Mosul is each and every day, those numbers decrease, with each and every yard that the Iraqi security forces take. 

And it's a matter of time until we'll be down to zero in west Mosul, and the Iraqi -- the government of Iraq will be talking to you about the liberation of Mosul as a whole. 

Q:  We know that after the clearance of the city, the hold force will take over certain -- you know, the area to stabilize and secure that area.  Are they currently in place?  Or how is it going in terms of the hold force, the tribal forces, and the tribal militia and so on, police forces that you trained? 

GEN. MARTIN:  So, talking about the breakdown of the different forces, that would be a great question to ask the Iraqi security forces and the government of Iraq.  What I can tell you is that the Iraqis understand what the right combination of security forces are to be able to stabilize post-liberated environments.  East Mosul is a great example of that. 

There's a combination of security forces that exist over there under the leadership of one single general officer who oversees that so that they can continue to secure the environment, and allow essential services to continue to flow in. 

And so they've got the right recipe for that.  We don't know exactly how they're going to do that in west Mosul yet, but they've got the resources to do it.  And based on what I've seen in east Mosul, I've got a high level of confidence that they'll have the right hold forces in place. 

Q:  Thank you. 

CAPT. DAVIS:  Okay.  Courtney Kube from NBC News. 

Q:  Hi, General Martin. 

So, you mentioned that there are several other cities and areas in Iraq that would still need to be cleared out of ISIS.  But I know when the Mosul campaign first started, there was a lot of talk about how this was, you know, one of these last major fronts that ISIS had in Iraq. 

So, once Mosul is cleared, do you anticipate that the -- the U.S. presence in Iraq may be able to draw down a bit? 

And then can you give us any sense of -- I know you can't talk about specific numbers of ISIS that may be in Mosul, but do you have any sense of how many hundreds or thousands of ISIS fighters may be in Iraq as a whole outside of -- of Mosul that you would have to face after the Mosul campaign is over? 

GEN. MARTIN:  Courtney, thanks for your question. 

And first thing I want to say to you is, "Go Blue."  Understand you're a Michigan graduate. 

So, what I can tell you is it's tough to tell just how many are left.  We have estimates, but once again, they're only estimates, and it's tough to speculate about the future.  But I can tell you that the Iraqi Security Forces will be just as keen as they are now, keen about continuing the offense against the remainder of these forces that are in Iraq. 

Now, we've got several other operations that are ongoing with our partners across Iraq.  They continue to disrupt Daesh's ability to train, their ability to recruit, and their ability to destabilize areas that have been previously stabilized. 

And so, regardless of what the end-state number may be, the determination of the Iraqis and the commitment of the coalition right by their side is what we'll use to -- to defeat ISIS in Iraq in the end. 

Q:  So you -- you don't anticipate that -- that the end of the Mosul campaign will signal any kind of a -- a potential for a decrease in U.S. troop presence in the country -- in Iraq as a whole?

GEN. MARTIN:  Courtney, I really can't speculate about the future.  That's all that would be. 

What I'll tell you is our mission hasn't changed and I don't anticipate it changing.  And we'll be there right by -- right by the Iraqi's side supporting them. 

Q:  Just say, "Go Blue," and it's totally our year for football this year.  So, I'm putting that on the record for everyone to hear. 


It's our year. 

CAPT. DAVIS:  Okay. 

Q:  Thank you. 


CAPT. DAVIS:  -- Stars and Stripes. 

Q:  Hey, sir.  I want to ask about what's left in Mosul. 

What are you seeing ability-wise from the remainder of the ISIS fighters there?  Are they able to launch large-scale counterattacks?  Are they still using VBIEDs? 

It seems like they've been, you know, kind of pinned down for a while.  So, how -- how capable are they of, you know, reinforcing themselves and such? 

GEN. MARTIN:  Okay, I'm sorry.  I -- I had to play with my ear here for a second because I had lost you.  But I think I got the gist of the question. 

So, there's a couple things to think about when we talk about what's going on with ISIS in West Mosul. 

First, and most importantly, is that they're surrounded.  They've got no way out. 

Now, being an encircled force, they try as they can to counterattack to try to break out for encirclement.  But all those attempts to date have failed. 

Exacerbating this situation for them is, when I came here eight months ago, they had capability that was very large.  They had -- they had suicide-borne vehicle -- vehicle IEDs.  They had UAS platforms.  They had a suite of indirect-fire platforms.  And they had lots of fighters. 

But over time, we stripped away their capabilities of those networks.  And so, they've gotten smaller and smaller in size and capability. 

And when that happens, they start running out of options.  And so they're basically fighting now with rifles, machine guns, snipers and of course the endless or limitless exploitation of the human element in Mosul.  Those are their weapons right now.  That's all they've got left. 

And the Iraqi -- 


CAPT. DAVIS:  Sorry about that, ladies and gentlemen. 

Okay, sir, I think we got you back again.  Sorry about that. 

GEN. MARTIN:  So, Jeff, can you hear me now? 

CAPT. DAVIS:  We got you back.  Sorry about that. 


CAPT. DAVIS:  Or actually, you were -- you got the floor, I think.  Yes, sorry about that. 

Okay, sir, I think we see you back again.  Can you hear us? 


GEN. MARTIN:  -- I just wish -- 



CAPT. DAVIS:  Thank you for the commentary. 

(UNKNOWN):  Thank you. 

CAPT. DAVIS:  Okay.  Sir -- sir, I apologize.  We keep running out here.  Make sure you can hear us again. 

GEN. MARTIN:  I can hear -- I've always been able to hear you guys loud and clear.  How do you hear me? 

CAPT. DAVIS:  Yes, sir, we got you back. 

I'm sorry, Corey Dickstein, if you wanted to finish up. 

Q:  I just wanted to -- to verify what I think you were saying when you -- when you cut out the first time. 

But you were saying that they're basically down to just rifles -- sniper rifles and that kind of thing.  They don't have VBIEDs or any of that capability anymore. 

GEN. MARTIN:  Corey, thanks, and I'll finish out that question. 

Very limited capability in that regard in Mosul.  There's a whole host of reasons for that, most of which I'm not prepared to discuss in this particular venue, for all the right reasons. 

But they're basically down to rifles, grenades, some antitank weapon systems, machine guns, and of course, most importantly that needs to be reported, their endless or limitless exploitation of the human element that remains under their tyranny and oppression in West Mosul. 

Is it possible that there could be a VBIED somewhere?  Absolutely.  But they're very limited in that capability.

And the reason is is because between the Iraqi Security Forces protecting themselves and the coalition's joint and coalition fires, we stripped them of those capabilities.  So all they've got is rifles and the things -- other things that I mentioned. 

Does that answer your question? 

Q:  It does.  Thank you, sir. 

CAPT. DAVIS:  Okay, Kimberly Dozier, Daily Beast. 

Q:  General, thanks for doing this. 

Can you expand on the limitless exploitation of the human element? 

Also, give us an update on the use of airborne IEDs, drones. 

And there was a -- an arrest -- or there was a notification by the Treasury Department that two ISIS followers involved in WMD were -- have been put on notice.  Can you give us an update on the use of WMD against Iraqi or your troops in -- inside Iraq? 

GEN. MARTIN:  (inaudible) and aerial system capability, and the ability for it to drop munitions. 

That -- that particular capability's been absent from West Mosul for quite a while.  And the reason it's gone is because we've targeted and we stripped them of that capability.  Plus, the Iraqi Security Forces are helping with that.  In addition, the Iraqi Security Forces have learned how to protect themselves from that. 

And so, all though a possible capability because of how we've adapted to the environment, it's really nothing more than a nuisance now. 

Second question you asked was weapons of mass destruction.  I'm not familiar with what exactly you're -- you're speaking about.  Can you give me some more information on that? 

Q:  The two ISIS operatives that were listed -- were targeted I think in terms of their use of mustard agent -- homemade mustard agent, which I was throwing into the basket of WMD. 

GEN. MARTIN:  Okay. 

What I'll tell you is ISIS has tried in many different ways to develop and utilize chemical weapons in the environment.  But here's the facts. 

It's been insignificant operationally. 

And that's because the Iraqi Security Forces are properly equipped with the protection equipment they need.  They're properly trained on how to counter those if they happen to run into them.  Our -- our -- our coalition partners and, of course, the coalition are equally equipped and trained and ready to counter that. 

And so, it has not been of significant impact so far. 

The report you referred to, I have not heard yet.  But I will tell you that the Iraqi Security Forces are prepared and the coalition's prepared should they want to use any chemical weapons. 

CAPT. DAVIS:  Next, we'll go to Thomas Watkins with Agence France-Presse. 

Q:  Thank you, General. 

What has been the most difficult aspect about training the Iraqi army?  Why is this fight for Mosul taking so long?  And have you felt like you've had the resources that you've needed? 

GEN. MARTIN:  I'm going to -- thanks, Thomas -- I'm going to answer your second question first.  I've got all the resources that I need.  And I would like to respectfully take exception with your assertion that Mosul has taken too long.  Let's review the bidding something -- on something for a second. 

And please -- please accept -- accept -- 


GEN. MARTIN:  -- that they'd have to clear. 

Free -- 


CAPT. DAVIS:  Can you hear us? 

GEN. MARTIN:  -- as they use this -- 


CAPT. DAVIS:  Can you hear us? 

GEN. MARTIN:  -- population the way they want to.  And I'm going to give you a small story about that. 

You can't hear me anymore? 

CAPT. DAVIS:  We lost you.  You were starting to say something great.  You had said you respectfully take exception with that assertion, and we lost you right after that.  Would you mind restating that? 

GEN. MARTIN:  We're going to -- 


GEN. MARTIN:  Can you guys hear me now? 

CAPT. DAVIS:  Yes, sir, we've got you. 

GEN. MARTIN:  Okay.  I'll try to repeat it. 

So, I respectfully -- 


CAPT. DAVIS:  Tom, can we just do phone? 


(UNKNOWN):  Hey, guys.  We're going to try to go to phone. 


GEN. MARTIN:  Hey, Tom, tell us when we're good.  Okay? 

CAPT. DAVIS:  We hear you here. 

GEN. MARTIN:  Okay, we're back live. 

(UNKNOWN):  Can you guys hear us okay there? 

CAPT. DAVIS:  Yes, we hear you loud and clear. 


(UNKNOWN):  Okay.  This is Tom. 


CAPT. DAVIS:  We hear you. 

GEN. MARTIN:  So, you lost me at "I'd respectfully like to reject your assertion."  Correct? 

Q:  Yes, sir. 

GEN. MARTIN:  Okay.  I'd like to review the bidding as I respectfully do that, about -- and just tell you about the monumental task that was at hand and the monumental achievement that's resulted over the past eight months or so.  Back 17 November -- or excuse me -- 17 October, the Iraqi security forces faced the city called Mosul. 

And as I stated in my opening statement, that's about the size of Philadelphia -- 200,000 buildings; 3,000 kilometers of road; 1.8 million people, and an adversary that could use them any way they like -- slave labor, exploited population, sex slaves, whatever they want to do with them. 

And they've used them just about any way they could.  And so the Iraqi security forces began that endeavor.  And in about 100 days, they cleared the east side of the city, about half of that infrastructure; about half the people liberated.  And then they moved over to the west. 

And in the west, they conducted operations.  They chose to cut off and encircle ISIS, so they didn't have any options.  And so in doing that, it made ISIS much, much more desperate.  And so they resorted to tactics that we've never seen before.  I've been in the military for 31 years.  I've never seen an adversary like this. 

And I've never read about an adversary like that, that exploits the population the way that they have.  And yet throughout the east side and the west side, the Iraqis have exercised an exceptional amount of restraint, discriminating between civilians and the foes that they face. 

And so, that's what's consumed their time in this very, very large city.  I've never fought a fight like this in my life.  I can tell you, I'd have to probably go back to World War II to talk about a fight that has been this size and this magnitude with the requirements that the Iraqis have imposed upon themselves, and chose to embark on this endeavor to liberate the people of this city. 

And so it has been eight months, but the outcome is undeniable, and the accomplishment is unparalleled.  And we've got to keep that in mind and understand.  And we do as a partner force, that we've got to be patient because they're doing a very difficult task. 

And they're going to prevail, but it's just going to take a little bit more time.  How much time?  I don't know. 

Thanks for your question, Tom. 

Q:  Can I just follow up?  Two years ago -- two-and-a-half years ago, the then-secretary of defense said that the Iraqis lacked the will to fight.  How have you seen that evolve? 

GEN. MARTIN:  Is this Tom again?  Okay. 

Tom, here's what I'll tell you.  This is my fifth deployment to Iraq.  I fought against them in Desert Storm.  I've -- I've fought side-by-side with them as a partner.  And now, fighting by, with and through them as a partner. 

And what I can tell you is they got plenty of will to fight.  I watch it each and every day when I go battlefield circulate, and I watch them in operations. 

Despite the magnitude of the task that they have had in front of them and will have in forward of them, they're not deterred.  And their commitment to their country is steadfast.  And I'm certain that they'll prevail. 

And I see nothing but improvement during the course of my deployments as I've watched them progress over time. 

CAPT. DAVIS:  Okay, Lucas Tomlinson, Fox News. 

Q:  General, given the three incidences in neighboring Syria involving Iranian-backed fighters, I was wondering in Iraq, is there any kind of de-confliction with the Iranians or Iranian-backed forces west of Mosul around Tal Afar? 

GEN. MARTIN:  So, Lucas, thanks for your question. 

What I'll tell you is anybody who operates within the government of Iraq, as a sovereign nation, should be conducting operations with the -- the blessing of, the support of, and under the -- under the -- the -- the leadership of the government of Iraq. 

So, that would be a great question to ask the government of Iraq. 

Q:  But I -- sir, respectfully, I'm asking you, is the U.S. military doing anything to de-conflict operations with some of these Iranian-backed forces or the government of Iran inside Iraq? 

GEN. MARTIN:  So, Lucas, we're working with the ISF who are under a sovereign nation in the government of Iraq.  And that's who we work with, that's who we operate -- that's who we operate with, and that's who we defeat Daesh with. 

Q:  And given the blockade against Qatar, I was wondering, is that having any effect on the air campaign inside Iraq? 

GEN. MARTIN:  Lucas, there's no change to my mission here.  And I have all the resources that I need to conduct my mission here. 

Q:  And are those resources arriving on time, when you'd like them?  Or is -- have been -- have they -- have those resources been slowed in any way, General, because of what's happened in Qatar? 

GEN. MARTIN:  Lucas, I've -- I have noticed no metering, no change in the way that we conduct operations.  Our operations are principally based on the tempo of our partners who we support each and every day. 

Here's -- here's -- here's what I'd tell you.  We've got a full suite of capabilities here.  And, you know, sometimes there's weather, sometimes there's other factors that may delay those capabilities.  But because of the diversity in the capabilities that this great 23-country coalition brings to bear, we've got a lot of flexibility to apply one asset where one might be problematic. 

But I have seen absolutely no impact in the metering in the way we're conducting operations.  We have the capabilities and the resources that we need. 

CAPT. DAVIS:  Okay, Luis Martinez, ABC News. 

Q:  Hi, General. 

A quick question about the role of your mission, how it's going to evolve after Mosul and after any other conflicts that you have there inside Iraq. 

Do you envision a transition to a different kind of training and -- or advise-and-assist mission with the Iraqis as they also transition away from direct combat? 

GEN. MARTIN:  Luis, it's tough to tell.  What I'll tell you is its tough to tell what's going to happen in the future, I'd be speculating. 

What I can tell you is going to happen, is we're going to continue to do what we're doing with now, and that's advise, assisting and enabling the Iraqi Security Forces. 

Where we go in the future is a matter of discussion between two sovereign nations and the coalition.  But I can't tell you what that -- what that would be because we don't know what the future holds. 

We'll also continue to train the Iraqi Security Forces as we support them, just like we have so far.  I mean, I don't know if I said this early in this presentation, but we're at about 66,000 people trained so far in our -- our partner capacity building sites and we continue to do that each month. 

Q:  So if I could just follow-up, so for the hold mission that's going to take place in Mosul, in West Mosul, the forces that are moving in there are already specifically trained for that mission, correct?  And what kind of -- what -- what actually do they do when they're in the hold mission? 

GEN. MARTIN:  Well, in -- the answer to your question is yes, they're trained. 

But what they do specifically, I'm not going to go into exactly what they do, but it's a -- its -- it's a -- it's a very strong presence so that they can make sure that good order remains, there's no destabilizing effects that could potentially occur, opportunists coming in to take advantage of the nascent post-liberation environment. 

And over time, that security force changes based on the assessments of the stability in that particular environment. 

And in some regards, we're seeing that in other places in Iraq -- I won't be specific as to where -- where you have less -- less army, less federal elements and more local elements securing that area. 

But you meter that over time, and the Iraqis understand how to do this and we advise them on how to do this.  And they're arriving at the right solution. 

You know, I haven't had a great chance to talk about East Mosul but East Mosul has just, just rebounded like I -- beyond my expectations.  I was -- I was amazed when I saw the resiliency of the people on the east side of the city.  I've been through it multiple times and comparing the different times that I've -- I've been through there, I've been amazed at how much improvement there is each and every day. 

And we're starting to see that on the west side of Mosul, right behind the forward line trace of troops. 

You're seeing the U.N. organizations rallying from around the world.  You're seeing the government of Iraq.  You're seeing the local citizens rebuilding their homes, rebuilding their businesses, cleaning up their streets, filling in the holes, the scars from war.  They're filling them in right behind the fight.  It's the most amazing thing to see.

And I talk to my partners often, when they've had a tough, tough fight.  I remind them, if they can, to, "Go take a look on the south side of West Mosul, go take a look at the east side of Mosul, and you will see the environment that you delivered to the people with your steadfast commitment to the defeat of this horrible, horrible, despicable enemy." 

CAPT. DAVIS:  With that, the queue's empty.  Any follow-ups anybody? 

One from Kimberly Dozier. 

Q:  Sir, apologies for my improper use of terminology earlier. 

The State Department and the Treasury Department designated as specially designated global terrorists two ISIS members.  It was Attala Selman Abetkafi al-Jaburi and Marwan Ibrahim Hussein Ta al-Azawi, both accused of participating in building of VBIEDs, but also chemical weapons, including sulfur mustard.  And it seems to indicate it's an ongoing process with factories still in use. 

So, are you seeing that kind of an operation?  And are you moving to disrupt it? 

GEN. MARTIN:  (Inaudible), thank you for the question. 

I now understand.  We just had a bad connection.  I didn't hear you.  It wasn't you.  It was my bad -- bad connection. 

But what I'll tell you is as we continue to liberate areas, we're finding that ISIS was very creative in trying to create their own weapons -- many different weapons of many different types.  And that's helped inform us as to what we'll see in the future in other places that we go.  And of course, we share that with our partners.  We share that with the members of the coalition so that we're better informed. 

I will grant you that they were very creative, but despite that creativity and despite the evil intent of these weapons as they produced them, they haven't been able to prevail.  And so, the outcome in Mosul is inevitable.  And I think we'll continue to follow suit with that as we continue to move through the rest of Iraq. 

Q:  Thank you. 

CAPT. DAVIS:  Okay.  General, any other closing comments for us before we sign off? 

GEN. MARTIN:  I do.  So, this is my last Pentagon press corps brief as the CJFLCC commander.  And so I want -- some important messages for hopefully those that stayed around to -- to hang around.  And Courtney, go blue.  That's my first message. 

Second one, I'm extremely proud of how the coalition has been so united and determined to defeat ISIS in Iraq.  As I said previously, a more stable and secure Iraq means a more stable region.  A more stable region means that we're all going to be safer at home.  Everybody in this 23-country coalition gets it, and we are galvanized and focused because of it. 

I'm also humbled by the selfless service of the men and women who make up the coalition, the people that make the sacrifices to come over here, and the quality and talent that these countries have selected is absolutely amazing.  You ought to meet some next time you all are visiting over here. 

And then, of course, I'm also impressed about the undeniable sustainable success of the Iraqi security forces over the past two years.  Thinking just a little over two years ago, Daesh was at the gates of Baghdad about to seize the capital, and how much they've turned it around, liberating 3 million people, tens of thousands of square kilometers liberated, and hundreds and hundreds of cities.  It's an amazing accomplishment. 

My last point.  I want to thank you for what every one of you do because I've been asked a question from time to time:  What keeps you up at night?  And I think I'll surprise you with my answer.  What keeps me up at night, before I go to bed at night, my wife and I talk.  I say, so what did you hear about Iraq today?  And when she says "nothing," it really concerns me.  You can make a difference and tell our story. 

Because there's an amazing story happening right over here, and it has impact.  If you believe what I just told you, it has impact for each and every one of you, no matter what country you come from.  That's why there's 23 coalitions (sic) over here.  That's why the Iraqis are so committed like they are. 

We get it.  Please tell our story.  God bless you all. 

CAPT. DAVIS:  Thank you, sir. 

Thank you, everybody.