Teleconference with Brigadier-General David Anderson, Director of the Global Coalition’s Ministerial Liaison Team (MLT) deployed on Operation IMPACT

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Archived Transcript / August 24, 2016


Transcript is in the language of delivery

Date:  August 24, 2016 - 1:00 p.m. (ET)

Location:  National Defence Headquarters, Conference Room D, Ottawa, ON

Provider: Media Q

Operator: Good afternoon and welcome to media availability with the Director of the Ministerial Liaison Team Op IMPACT. I would now like to turn the conference over to Brigadier-General Anderson. 

Bonjour et bienvenue à disponibilité médiatique avec le directeur de l'Équipe de liaison ministérielle. Je vais maintenant céder la parole au brigadier-général Anderson. La parole est à vous, monsieur.

Please go ahead, sir.

Brig.-Gen. David Anderson: Merci madame la modératrice.

Thank you, moderator. 

Hello everyone.  I'm Brigadier-General Dave Anderson and I'm speaking to you from the Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve forward (ph) headquarters in Baghdad. As the moderator explained, I'm going to clarify my roles and responsibilities and provide you with an update from Baghdad on Operation Inherent Resolve and Canada's role within in.

Bonjour à tous. Je suis le brigadier-général Dave Anderson et je m'adresse à vous à partir des quartiers généraux avancés de la force opérationnelle inter-armée multinationale Opération Inherent Resolve, situés à Baghdad. Tel que la, l'a expliqué l'opératrice, je vais expliquer les rôles et responsabilités et je vais aussi vous mettre à jour quant à l'Opération Inherent Resolve et la contribution du Canada au sein de cette opération.

As you know, on March 15th of this year, Canada announced that I would lead a Ministerial Liaison Team based in Iraq to support the broader coalition effort to assist the Iraq government to defeat Daesh and promote sustainable security solutions in Iraq. The Ministerial Liaison Team, or MLT for short, has built-up the base of a Canadian contingent of senior military advisors. It now has 12 advisors from eight different countries: Canada, the United States, Italy, Great Britain, Norway, the Netherlands, Estonia and Germany. 

Our mission is to conduct strategic advice and assist as the military strategic level and ministerial level of the Iraqi security forces. Since that initial announcement, much has happened. As we conducted the detailed planning of CJTF-OIR, it became apparent that the best approach would be to align Canada's Ministerial Liaison Team with the CJTF-OIR partner force development effort. 

Initially, CJTF-OIR's partner force development team was a very small section within the headquarters agreed to manage the Iraq Train and Equip fund and to provide oversight for the training and equipping of partner forces. Since its inception in 2015, the fund has expended close to $1.6 billion to train and equip over 26,000 members of the Iraqi security forces, including the Iraqi Army, federal police, local police and tribal forces.

As the coalition efforts developed, host nation security forces expanded from an initial focus on Iraqi security force brigades and units to enabling the Iraqis at a more strategic level. It became apparent that we needed to combine the Ministerial Liaison Team with the CJTF-OIR Partner Force Development effort so that we could advise the Iraqi government and the Defence ministry in a more coherent and effective manner. 

This combined organization became the Combined Joint Task Force-OIR CJ7 Directorate and it is comprised of over 60 personnel from 11 coalition countries. My other title is the CJ7. The CJ7 mission to provide staff, is to provide staff oversight of the entire training equip enterprise in Iraq, as well as the provision of military and ministerial strategic advise and assist, all in support of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve and the USCENTCOM Regional Campaign Plan. 

I report directly to the United States Lieutenant-General that commands Operation Inherent Resolve, Lieutenant-General Townsend. Operation Inherent Resolve supports our partner Iraqi security forces as they work to defeat Daesh on the ground. This support takes many forms: air strikes, logistical support in terms of food, fuel, ammunition and other essential equipment, intelligence support and the provision of military equipment and training. 

The events of the past year demonstrate their approach is working. This past Sunday, the new Commander of Operation Inherent Resolve, Lieutenant-General Townsend noted in his first speech that incredible work has been done by the coalition and our regional partners to degrade and dismantle ISIL's oppressive and brutal regime. Their combined efforts on the ground and in the air have accelerated the campaign, thrown Daesh back across, all across the battlefield and achieved remarkable momentum.

Since Daesh made its initial advances in Iraq and Syria, our partner forces have been able to stop the enemy onslaught and have rolled it back in many areas. Just over a year ago, Daesh controlled the Euphrates River Valley from the Syrian-Turkish border almost to the edge of Baghdad Province to include the city of Ramadi. The enemy held all of the major population centres in Ninawa Province and along the Tigris River Valley from Mosul to Baji. 

The Kurds (inaudible) advancing and many observers characterized the situation as a stalemate. Over the past year, the coalition determined the Iraqi security forces, which have been trained primarily for counter-insurgency, was ill equipped and not sufficiently trained to conduct a more conventional fight against an enemy that was making use of captured heavy equipment and weapon systems. 

The coalition airstrikes halted the Daesh advance and degraded their capability, Iraqi forces were reconstituted, and an ambitious plan to train and equip them was implemented at five training sites across the country. We have shifted away from a COIN, or counter-insurgency approach towards a more combined arms manoeuver approach by teaching the Iraqis how to integrate infantry, armour, artillery, engineers, aviation and other combat multipliers to achieve an overwhelming advantage at the right place and at the right time on the battlefield. 

With this new training and new approach over the past year, our partner forces, with coalition support, have seized the initiative and have retaken several key areas and cities within Iraq, with Tikrit, Ramadi and Fallujah being some of the most significant. The coalition has trained more than 13,500 members of the Iraqi security forces, including 4,000 Iraqi Army soldiers, 1,500 counter-terrorism service soldiers, 6,000 Peshmerga, 950 federal police, and 300 border guards.

These forces have liberated more than 700,000 civilians in Iraq. We've also stepped up our emphasis on police training and recruiting tribal force, forces, adding 5,000 local police and over 20,000 tribal fighters. These men will be the key to holding gains and protecting some 700,000 newly liberated Iraqis and soon, over a million to be freed from ISIL oppression in Mosul. 

Iraqis have proven that they can conduct complex and decisive operations. To seize the operationally important (inaudible) the Iraqi Army conducted an attack by the largest Iraqi armoured force since 1990. The Iraqi security forces also conducted the first closed bridging operation by any Arab army since the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, for which the Kurds provided important cooperation and support. 

Currently, the Iraqi security forces and partner forces in Syria, supported by the coalition, are applying constant pressure on Daesh across the length and breadth of the battlefield. The Syrian Democratic Forces and the Syrian-Arab Coalition have liberated Manbij and continue to pressure Daesh in the strategically important area of Northern Syria. Inside Iraq, the Iraqi security forces continue to push north of the recently liberated town of Fallujah in the Euphrates River Valley and are also liberating new areas in the Tigris River Valley as they move towards Mosul. Kurdish forces recently expanded their areas of control in Northern Iraq.   

I know you're all wondering when the Mosul operation will begin. This is an Iraqi-led effort that will commence when they are ready to do so, and I won't speculate on when that might be. War moves at its own pace and we prefer to surprise the enemy. As you know, the work being by the Canadian advisors will contribute to the success of the Iraqi security forces when they liberate Mosul. 

Le Canada est devenu un partenaire déterminé au sein de la coalition multinationale contre les groupes EIIL, or, l'état islamique. Dans le cadre de l'opération IMPACT, les forces armées canadiennes effectuent des opérations aériennes, fournit de l'instruction et de l'aide aux forces de sécurité iraquiennes, contribuent au renforcement des capacités des forces régionales et continuent de soutenir la coalition en offrant les services de personnes extrêmement compétentes.

Les efforts réorientées des forces armées canadiennes (inaudible) les bases de succès à long terme pour nos partenaires régionaux en permettant à leurs forces de sécurité de planifier et de mettre en œuvre plus efficacement les opérations militaires visant à établir et (inaudible) le groupe de l'état islamique et améliorer la sécurité et la stabilité dans la région.

Op IMPACT is part of Canada's whole of government approach to the region, which includes contributions not only from the Department of National Defence, but also Global Affairs Canada and International Development. Canada will continue to consult with allies and other key stakeholders to determine how best it can contribute to the coalition in Iraq and Syria and longer term efforts in the region. 

In closing, I wish to emphasize the great progress made by the Iraqi security forces over the last year. Through hard work and sacrifice, and with the support of the coalition, we have drastically improved the quality of their fighting effort and are steadily reclaiming their country. They have the momentum and are aware of the need to sustain it as the recent operations to continually advance to liberate the town of Jarrah indicates. They also realize they need to train forces to provide security after the military defeat of Daesh occurs so that they can hold the cities and towns they liberate and protect the population in the long term. 

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