Saturday, February 17, 2007

Notes from Media Roundtable With Secretary Of Defense Robert Gates

(Paul Grant (follower of Basho) notes on SEC. Gates & GEN. Paces Media Roundtable February 15, 2007. These notes break up the press confrence into the issues that were covered- from weapons from Iran, to Russia's threat to pull out of the INF treaty, to poor pre-war planning and other topical issues. You can read the transcript at:

Presenter: Secretary Of Defense Robert Gates February 15, 2007
Defense Department Media Roundtable With Secretary Of Defense Robert Gates And Chairman Of The Joint Chiefs Of Staff General Peter Pace

Iranian involvement in weapons that have made their way into Iraq
1. we know that the Qods Force is involved. We know the Qods Force is a paramilitary arm of the IRGC. So we assume that the leadership of the IRGC knows about this.

BACKGROUND Qods (Jerusalem) Force, also called Al-Quds Force or simply Quds Force, is an elite unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) that carries out operations outside of Iran.[1] The units name, “Quds,” is the Persian word for Jerusalem. The primary mission of the Quds Force is to organize, train, equip, and finance foreign Islamic revolutionary movements, like Hizbollah and the Mahdi_Army.

Reports have said that Qods Force has taken an active role in Iraq since September 2002, when they allegedly began building pro-Iranian militant groups in anticipation of the US led invasion of Iraq in early 2003. Since then they have been accused of providing training and financial support to cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army

A New York Times report on February 9, 2007, said that US intelligence has confirmed that Qods Force has provided Shia militants in Iraq with Iranian made explosively formed penetrators (EFP), which have been called the most effective improvised explosive device used against American troops.[33] Many of these have been brought into Iraq at night at the border crossing at Mehran. Two days later US military commanders in Iraq gave a briefing to reporters, in which they displayed EFPs with what they said are Iranian serial numbers. According to them, these devices have killed over 170 Americans in Iraq.[34] President Bush himself reaffirmed the information several days later.[35] Despite this, some members of the US military and intelligence community are unsure if Iranian leaders are actually behind the delivery of weapons.[36]

These claims were denied by senior Iranian leaders. "They condemn us for making problems in Iraq, but they don't have any documentary proof," Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hossaini told reporters. "Lots of this evidence is fake, artificial. For example, when they wanted to start a war in Iraq, they made plenty of evidence that there were lots of weapons in Iraq, though the investigators of the International Atomic Energy Agency said they couldn't find any weapons in Iraq," he said. "Right now they're using weapons [with certain markings], but it doesn't prove where these weapons came from.[37]

2. SEC. GATES: We know the Qods Force is a paramilitary arm of the IRGC. So we assume that the leadership of the IRGC knows about this. Whether or not more senior political leaders in Iran know about it, we don't know. And frankly, for me, either way, it's a worry. Either they do know and have approved it, or they don't know and the IRGC may be acting on their own in Iraq.

3. GEN. Pace :What I tried to say when I said I didn't know about the Iranian government, I'm talking about the top two or three people in the government. " I cannot -- we do not have proof that the senior leadership in Iran is directing these activities in Iraq, but as the secretary just pointed out, either way, either they are -- and that's not good -- or they don't know -- and that's not good."

BACKGROUND: Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps is the largest[1] military organisation of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The literal Persian (Farsi) translation of the name means "The Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution".

They are separate from, and parallel to, the Iranian army. They are equipped with their own navy, air force, intelligence, [2]ground troops and special forces. The force is also responsible for Iran's missile forces. The operations of the Sepah-e Pasdaran are geared towards asymmetric warfare and less traditional duties. These include the control of smuggling, control of the Strait of Hormoz, and resistance operations.[3

4. GEN. PACE: I'm worried that any weapons end up in Iraq to be used against coalition forces, regardless of their home of origin.

5. GEN Pace and SEC. GATES dodge questions about the use of anonymous officials to report the Iran - weapons connection. SEC GATES: " Why it was anonymous, why it wasn't allowed to be taped, I don't know."

6.SEC. GATES: We are not going to war with Iran

7. Though "the explosively formed projectiles are a real problem" the bigger problem is "the IED problem in general, and those are coming from a lot of sources, including from inside Iraq. So the IED problem -- as I've said before, the IEDs account for about 70 percent of our casualties in Iraq. These explosively formed projectiles, as I understand it, account for a relatively small percentage of the IEDs we encounter through attacks or through finding them.

Iraq surge:
1. the major thrust in Baghdad has not yet started.
2. Only two of the Iraqi brigades are in Bagdad.
3. Iraq and US forces recentlly have had success against a a Sunni stronghold and a a Shi'a stronghold.

Osama bin Laden
1. General Eikenberry, said that the trail for Osama bin Laden has gone cold.
2.The president gave this speech today. He never mentioned the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
3. SEC. GATES: Even thogh we no longer talk about Osama bin Laden, and even though we admitt that the trail for him is cold- doesn't mean that Osama bin Laden is safe

Russian Pulling out of the INF treaty

1. Russia is not upset over our plans to put a ballistic missile defense in Europe, even though they say they are, because they know it is no threat to them (Russia)"
2.And in fact, Defense Minister Ivanov said that much on his trip to India; that it was no threat to Russia " - so it's a non-issue.
3. But if they pull out of the treaty it will be a problem for both the US and for Europe


U.S. President Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev signing the INF Treaty, 1987.
The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty was an agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union signed in Washington, D.C. on December 8, 1987 by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. It was ratified by the United States Senate on May 27, 1988 and came into force on June 1 of that year.

The treaty eliminated nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers (300-3,400 miles). By the treaty's deadline of June 1, 1991, a total of 2,692 of such weapons had been destroyed, 846 by the U.S. and 1846 by the Soviet Union. Also under the treaty, both nations were allowed to inspect each other's military installations. The full title of the agreement is The Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Elimination of Their Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles.

The Ballistic Defense

1 The U.S. is supposed to spend up to $4 billion between now and 2013 to develop the sites in Poland and Czechoslovakia, radar missiles to counter an alleged Iranian threat, ballistic missile threat.
2. Currently the Iranian Ballistic threat only reaches into Turkey not into the middle of Europe.
3. Gates is concerned that Iran will progress in thier missle technology, maybe even buying technology.
4. we're looking out to 2015 and beyond with our (US ) plans- to take into account the likelihood that Iran's missile program will reach beyond Turkey.


1. It's a NATO undertaking- the commander is NATO (as opposed to the US.)
2. The plan is to be on the offensive this spring, because in past spring seasons that is when the Taliban rises up to attack us.
3. Gates does not consider the actions planned in Afghanistan's as a surge.


1. Documents from war plan back from 2002 have now been declassified
2. Plans projected that there would be just 5,000 troops, if that, in Iraq at this point, four years after the invasion. How is it war planners were so wildly off the mark about what it would take to secure Iraq?
3. It's a fair question. "There were some assumptions going in that turned out to not come out to be true. One assumption was that the Iraqi army, once freed of Saddam's dictatorship, would become a force of good for the people and that it would be a standing army at the time of liberation. As you know, it disintegrated in the very early hours of the fight, and therefore there was no army of some 400,000 Iraqis who were able to then provide security for their country." ( Didn't we dis-ban thier army?)
BACKGROUND: Before the war, President Bush approved a plan that would have put several hundred thousand Iraqi soldiers on the U.S. payroll and kept them available to provide security, repair roads and prepare for unforeseen postwar tasks. But that project was stopped abruptly in late May by L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Iraq, who ordered the demobilization of Iraq's entire army, including largely apolitical conscripts. Wrong Turn at a Postwar Crossroads?
Decision to Disband Iraqi Army Cost U.S. Time and Credibility Washington Post

4. the bombing of the holy mosque in Samarra. (See our post) That created enormous sectarian violence, not anticipated.

Unprecedented role of private contractors on the battlefield
1.Gates claims that he has not had a chance to look into this as of yet.

Muqtada al-Sadr-
1. we don't know that he has left to Iran.
2. Gates predicts he will `go to ground'
3. Gates hopes that in this period that we and the Iraqis provide enough security so that economic development, improvements in governance, political reconciliation can happen.

1. Japanese Defense Minister Mr. Kyuma, has been -- in the last couple of months has been -- repeatedly and publicly criticizing U.S. policy, especially regarding Iraq, saying the decision to go to war was a mistake.
2. Gates: " I have not at this point had any communication with him. My impression is that the prime minister and the government of Japan have been supportive and continue to be supportive. "


1. The units that are going to Iraq, the five brigades of the surge, are being equipped, in large part, by taking stuff out of war reserve stocks and borrowing equipment from non-deploying units.
2. GEN. PACE: We've got about 40 percent of all of our equipment that is either currently in Iraq or Afghanistan or in depots for repair, which leaves you about 60 percent of your inventory, which is an enormous amount of equipment.
3. It is true that for the five brigades that are flowing to plus up in Iraq right now, that we are moving equipment from some units to those units,
4. it is a fact that a good portion of our equipment is under repair. Congress has allocated the money needed to repair. Our depots are working on that backlog as quickly as they can.
5. our potential enemies around the world should not miscalculate we have sufficient reserve capacity -- don't forget, 2.4 million Americans active Guard and Reserve, about 200,000 in the gulf region, another 200,000 around the globe, leaving about two million Americans still available, with the vast fleet and air forces that we have, to respond to any other challenge that might come our way.

6.The Air Force currently has a program to reduce its manpower by about 40,000. The Air Force is going to have to now go back and look at those plans in terms of the increase of 65,000 in the Army and 27,000 in the Marine Corps and see whether or not they can carry forward that full 40,000-person reduction and to see what the additional aircraft requirement might be to support those forces.

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