Lynn Examines Transitions Facing U.S., Iraqis

BAGHDAD, Oct. 26, 2010 — Deputy Defense Sec­re­tary William J. Lynn III said he is vis­it­ing Iraq to ensure the ongo­ing tran­si­tion to Iraqi-pro­vid­ed secu­ri­ty is on track.

Lynn arrived here today and imme­di­ate­ly went into meet­ings with Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, com­man­der of U.S. Forces Iraq and U.S. Ambas­sador to Iraq James Jef­frey.

Fol­low­ing those meet­ings Lynn vis­it­ed with troops of the 1st Armored Divi­sion and the 1st Advise and Assist Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Divi­sion at U.S. Divi­sion-Cen­tral. He also vis­it­ed with troop­ers of the 7th Cav­al­ry at Joint Secu­ri­ty Sta­tion Fal­con locat­ed south of the city.

Lynn is respon­si­ble for the day-to-day man­age­ment of the depart­ment, but he tries, he said, to get to the area of oper­a­tions to make the con­nec­tions with the deci­sions made in Wash­ing­ton.

“Any­thing we do in Wash­ing­ton is only impor­tant as it inter­sects the mis­sion out here in the field,” Lynn told reporters here today.

The deputy dis­cussed three over­lap­ping tran­si­tions occur­ring in Iraq. The first is the tran­si­tion from U.S. com­bat pow­er to the Iraqi forces tak­ing over the secu­ri­ty mis­sion. The sec­ond is the trans­fer of respon­si­bil­i­ties from the U.S. mil­i­tary to the U.S. State Depart­ment. The third is tran­si­tion­ing all U.S. forces out of Iraq by the end of 2011.

The tran­si­tion of the U.S. mil­i­tary mis­sion in Iraq from a com­bat force to an advise-and-assist force has gone smooth­ly, Lynn said.

“We help enable the [Iraqi] forces and work in the back­ground, but we no longer play a prin­ci­ple role,” the deputy defense sec­re­tary said. “That’s going to con­tin­ue as we draw the force down fur­ther.”

The Amer­i­cans and Iraqis worked togeth­er well to trans­fer this respon­si­bil­i­ty, Lynn said.

“The next step is for them to be able to oper­ate over the next 15 months with less and less U.S. mil­i­tary sup­port and ulti­mate­ly U.S. forces leav­ing,” he said. “The focus there, now that they have the com­bat role, is to make sure they can do the nit­ty grit­ty of defense as well, which is main­tain­ing the equip­ment, sup­port­ing the weapons sys­tems, acquir­ing new capa­bil­i­ty. That’s always a chal­lenge for a new mil­i­tary.”

The U.S. mil­i­tary also is tran­si­tion­ing a num­ber of mis­sions to the State Depart­ment. Devel­op­ment, acqui­si­tion and train­ing, Lynn said, are the biggest mis­sion areas with police train­ing being the most com­plex.

“Police train­ing is a crit­i­cal role and has to be tran­si­tioned,” he said. “We’re look­ing at [tran­si­tion­ing] the equip­ment, the sup­port­ing materiel, build­ing, bases –- what­ev­er [the] State [Depart­ment] needs to do those mis­sions.”

Mean­while, U.S. mil­i­tary and coali­tion train­ers are work­ing “to tran­si­tion the train­ers and con­trac­tors from a DOD lead to a State lead,” Lynn said. “In terms of the resources, the State Depart­ment is ask­ing the Con­gress for the resources they need to do that. We’re still work­ing with Con­gress to get that approved. I think there are chal­lenges in the resource area.”

Obtain­ing the nec­es­sary resources, Lynn said, is crit­i­cal to main­tain­ing progress that has been made in Iraq to date.

“We’ve achieved some­thing here in Iraq,” he said. “We would hate, as we do this tran­si­tion, to let some of that suc­cess dis­ap­pear because we didn’t fund the appro­pri­ate amount for train­ing and sup­port.”

Lynn said the State Depart­ment will have to ramp up per­son­nel as the tran­si­tion con­tin­ues.

“As the U.S. mil­i­tary draws down [in Iraq], the State Depart­ment will ramp up,” Lynn said. “The part­ner­ship with State is strong. It’s not unchal­lenged, this is a very large enter­prise, but I think we feel good about the way it’s going.”

And, tran­si­tion­ing troops and equip­ment out of Iraq is a huge job, Lynn said. Up to Sep­tem­ber, the U.S. mil­i­tary shipped 1.3 mil­lion pieces of equip­ment out of Iraq. This runs the gamut of com­put­ers to M1A2 Abrams tanks.

“Basi­cal­ly any­thing with a bar code [will be prepped to depart Iraq],” Lynn said.

Today, there’s 2.1 mil­lion pieces of equip­ment left to tran­si­tion and that job must be com­plet­ed over the next 15 months, the deputy sec­re­tary said.

Mean­while, the Iraqis are work­ing to form their new gov­ern­ment fol­low­ing the nation­al elec­tions held in March. Lynn said he hopes the Iraqis form a broad-based gov­ern­ment.

“We do need to get a gov­ern­ment formed,” he said, “but more than the speed of the for­ma­tion of the gov­ern­ment, is the breadth and inclu­sion of it.”

Some issues can­not be decid­ed until a new Iraqi gov­ern­ment is in pow­er, Lynn said. These issues, he said, include the future of U.S.-Iraqi mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary con­tacts and the Iraqi defense bud­get.

Regard­ing the Wik­ileaks sto­ry, Lynn told reporters here that the 400,000 doc­u­ments post­ed on the Web are stolen mate­r­i­al.

“We don’t think it should have been released,” he said. “We’re dis­turbed about the impli­ca­tion, par­tic­u­lar­ly with the vol­ume of it in that it gives insight to poten­tial adver­saries to how we oper­ate, how we inter­act.

“Indeed,” he con­tin­ued, “there are groups out there who say they are min­ing this data to use against us. We think it’s prob­lem­at­ic in that sense.”

The Wik­ileaks sit­u­a­tion presents some hard choic­es for the U.S. mil­i­tary, Lynn said. In the first Gulf War, he said, com­man­ders want­ed more real-time intel­li­gence. The way the sys­tem worked then, Lynn said, was that intel­li­gence was sent to Wash­ing­ton, where it was ana­lyzed and sent back to com­man­ders in the field. Often it was out-of-date by the time it arrived.

Lynn said part of the prob­lem back then was the Inter­net wasn’t devel­oped or robust enough to send the mas­sive num­bers of elec­trons need­ed to con­sti­tute real-time infor­ma­tion.

The Inter­net is much more mature today, Lynn said, not­ing “the idea [now] is to get as much of the rel­e­vant intel­li­gence out to the field as pos­si­ble. We tried to change the process so the intel­li­gence is avail­able to warfight­ers, when they need it. We don’t want to change that. It’s an impor­tant ele­ment in the suc­cess we’ve had.”

Still, there must be a bet­ter way to pro­tect infor­ma­tion, so this type of mas­sive loss doesn’t reoc­cur, Lynn said. One way, he said, is to more close­ly mon­i­tor the actions of intel­li­gence spe­cial­ists, for exam­ple, to see what type and amounts of clas­si­fied doc­u­ments are down­loaded.

There may be a good rea­son for down­load­ing clas­si­fied doc­u­ments, “but you do like the cred­it card com­pa­nies do and noti­fy offi­cials of the abnor­mal use,” Lynn said.

Lynn said he is very impressed with the work that U.S. ser­vice­mem­bers are accom­plish­ing in Iraq.

“It’s amaz­ing the job they are doing,” he said. “I just [vis­it­ed] a unit out at FOB [For­ward Oper­at­ing Base] Fal­con –- where they turned over a base that had 7,000 U.S. forces on it. Now there are a few U.S. forces and two brigades of Iraqi police are mov­ing in to han­dle the secu­ri­ty for much of Bagh­dad from that area.”

That area, he said, was in a part of the out­skirts of Bagh­dad that Amer­i­can forces had to fight their way into in 2006 and 2007.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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