Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Last week I published my “100 Day Letter,” a list of objectives Multi-National Division – Center will strive to accomplish during the Division Headquarters’ last 100 days. Together, we are going to spend these last 100 days sprinting to the finish line to hand off the baton to the 10th Mountain Division Headquarters.
Over the past 11 months, we have seen attack levels drop to pre-2004 statistics. The Surge gave us the combat power to take the fight to the enemy. We no longer commute to work – you are set in over 56 patrol bases and combat outposts to secure the population. You are stabilizing the area by meeting the needs of the Iraqi people.
We are in the “relentless pursuit” phase – we are watching where the enemy is fleeing, and following him there. We are also in “relentless pursuit” of the non-lethal lines of operations. As we sprint towards the finish line, we will work to further reduce the insurgency, increase the capability of the Iraqi Security Forces, increase the capacity of the Iraqi government and the local economy, push through the national media filter by engaging hometown outlets and the Arabic press, prepare for transition with the 10th Mountain Division, and focus on the four “Rs”: reenlistment, redeployment, reintegration, and re-set.
Reduce the insurgency. We are continue to clear enemy safe havens and build patrol bases in order to give the enemy no where to hide. As the Surge forces redeploy, we will not give up ground for which our Soldiers fought and died by only transitioning patrol bases to the Iraqi Security Forces. We are also supporting the detainee release program by releasing 300 detainees per month. Each detainee is “signed for” by a local sheikh, and if the detainee is re-arrested, so will his guarantor.
Increase the capability of the Iraqi Security Forces. We will continue to partner with the Iraqi Security Forces, build police stations, transition new units into Sayafiyah and Salman Pak, and renovate Joint Security Sites. The Task Force Marne Non-Commissioned Officer Academy is developing Iraqi non-commissioned officers to be the backbone of their military, as non-commissioned officers are the backbone of ours.
Increase the capacity of the Iraqi government and the local economy. Everything starts at the local level and money is still a munition. Our main goal is to provide Iraqis with sustainable employment – employed Iraqis are not emplacing IEDs as a means of income. Water is a stabilizing force, and we will enable the repairs of the irrigation pumps and the treatment plants to deliver potable water to the Iraqi people. Many of you have already provided security for the Ministry of Electricity to repair power lines, and we will continue to provide security so the Iraqi people have power.
Empowering local governing councils is the key as well as working with local agriculture unions. We have become known as the Division who knows how to develop women’s initiatives, and we will continue to work with Iraqi women on issues that affect women and children.
Push through the national media filter by engaging hometown outlets and the Arabic press. All of you are accomplishing good news stories everyday, and we will continue to push through the national media filter by engaging our own local hometowns. We will also empower Iraqis to tell their own stories through local radio stations and local newspapers.
Prepare for transition with the 10th Mountain Division. All upcoming transitions are important, and setting our successors up for success is the way to ensure we do not lose momentum.
The four “Rs”: reenlistment, redeployment, reintegration, and re-set. I know the Army is not breaking because so many of you continue to reenlist. And when we redeploy, we are going to focus on Soldiers and their Families – all Soldiers will be afforded both their block leave and their administrative leave.
We will not rest on our laurels, but we will continue to make this Division better. You all have accomplished unbelievable progress, but we still have two missing Soldiers. Over the next 100 days, we will do everything possible to find Alex Jimenez and Byron Fouty, and to kill or capture the insurgents involved in their attack. “I will never accept defeat, I will never quit, and I will never leave a fallen comrade.” Rock of the Marne!