Air Force Maj. Gen. Kennedy P. Ekman, deputy commander of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, conducts a virtual briefing on operations in Iraq, from the Pentagon, July 21, 2020.
Commander Jessica McNulty, And I’ll be facilitating today’s press briefing. Let me start with a quick communications check. General Eichmann, can you hear me, sir? Just guy can hear you loud and clear. Thanks. So much wonderful served today. We have Major General Kenneth Eckman, Deputy Commander for Combined Joint Task Force operation. Inherent Resolve, General Eckman, Overseas joint and coalition operations, Intelligence and Plans in the fight against the Islamic State Group of Iraq and Syria. He is live today via satellite from Baghdad, Iraq, and will provide us an update on operations. Please be mindful there is a 7 to 8 second delay. Before we begin, I ask that you please keep your phones and laptops muted in order to. And unless you’re speaking in order to prevent feedback and other distractions, General, the floor is yours for opening comments. Well, Jessica, thanks very much. And everyone. Good morning from Baghdad, Iraq. First of all, thank you for taking the time to speak with me. I look forward your questions during the session and I hope to catch you up on where we are in operation. Inherent resolve. I have served as the deputy commander for operations for the combined joint task force for nearly three months, reflecting on my experiences to date. What stands out to me is the dedication and professionalism of all the service men and women from our 30 nation coalition operating both inside and outside of Iraq and Syria. Regardless of what we ask of them, they constantly adapt and apply themselves to the different challenges and circumstances that the mission throws at them. They do all of this very far from home. Our mission is the coalition continues to focus on defeating Isis or Dash. We have come a long way building on the successes of our predecessors and firmly linked with our Iraqi and Syria partners. Together, we’re keeping constant pressure on dash to ensure their lasting defeat. As I’m sure you all are aware. Dash no longer holds physical territory. They struggle to conduct coordinated activities because Iraqi security forces find and destroy their hideouts and weapons caches. Their efforts are enabled by coalition support, including advising intelligence planning and precision airstrikes. The I S F continue to prove their capabilities as a cohesive force even in complex operations. For example, the Iraqi Joint Operations Command recently wrapped up the fourth days of their Heroes of Iraq compact campaign. They showed outstanding cooperation among the Iraqi army, federal Police intelligence service and anti terrorism troops to clear dash hideouts in remote areas. Wherever dash seek sanctuary, the eye itself will find them another tangible reflection of our partners. Success involves coalition re posturing. We are getting smaller. In the early days of the coalition, a broad network of bases was essential. We were battling Isis in Mosul and Bar and Abu Kamal. These bases were used to foster our relationships with the I S F and stage training and tactical capabilities. Now, over six years later, we have trained over 250,000 sf and build strong relationships based on trust and mutual interests. The I S F is doing things for itself training forces and even developing training Kadre that we used to do for them. Our reduction in basing is truly a sign of progress. So what’s next for C J t oppo ir? On July 25th This week we will take another step by handing over control of the base at Bez Mina to the Iraqis. Spain led the coalition effort, their training 50,000 Iraqi security forces since 2015. Their work is done there. So the coalition in Spain can depart divesting equipment and facilities to include enhanced weapons ranges in mock urban villages valued at almost $5 million to the Iraqi government based transfers to include Bez Mina, reflect a shift to providing high end advice and support to the operational command level. The Iraqis still need our help in planning our intelligence and surveillance capabilities and our coalition airpower. These needs frame are continued partnership with the Iraqi security forces. To provide the support, we activated a military advisory group on the second of July and Baghdad. The centralized location allows military advisers from 13 coalition nations toe work alongside senior Iraqi officers to plan and execute operations against Isis across all provinces in the country. This approach has already proven its value in recent large scale operations to clear dash remnants. The Iraqi security forces are already stronger than Isis are high level advising approaches, moving our Iraqi partners to improve self reliance. They’re doing great throughout. We have coordinated changes to our mission and basing with the government of Iraq. Together we remain united and resolved to achieve the enduring defeat of dash and regional stability. Just two weeks ago, I traveled with the Centcom commander to northeast Syria. I want to highlight are close partnership with the Syrian Democratic forces and their success against Ash. They’re capturing Isis lieutenants, busting smuggling networks and denying dash territory critical infrastructure and revenues. Overall, the SDF is a strong, capable force, and we’re committed to their partnership with, um before we transition to questions, I do want to remind everyone of the selfless service of our troops. Yesterday we lost one of our young warriors who is conducting a security patrol in northeastern Syria. On behalf of our commander, we turn a General Pat White and the entire 82 member coalition. We send our condolences and prayers to the families of our fallen comrade. With that, I’ll hand it over to Commander McNulty to begin the question and answer portion. Thank you. I look forward to the discussion over to you, Jessica. Thank you, sir. As a reminder for the media, please provide your full name and agency prior to asking your question. Please limit yourself. The one question and one follow up, we’re gonna go to the phone lines. First leader from Associated Press. Did you manage to make the call? Hi. Yes, thank you, General Lolita Bounds. Or would you depressed? There’s we’re obviously some high level visits between high level Iraqis to Iran and Iranians into Iraq. And in recent weeks, um, and they the Iranians have made it clear that they continue to see the U. S. A threat in Iraq and that they little vow vengeance for the killing of Hello, Mahaney earlier this year. What level of activity are you seeing among the militias? And would you consider the militias of greater threats on Isis to U. S forces there Now, Thank you. Yeah, well, thanks so much for your question. I appreciate it. And we are tracking the recent visit. Prime Minister Al Qaeda. Me to Iran, you know, is he reaches out to his various neighbors in the region. That will be very helpful as he sets an understanding between the newly formed Iraqi government and the nations that had a significant impact on Iraq’s future with regards to the Iranian militia groups that that reside here in ah, in Iraq. You know, they’re clearly not our focus for C. J t f O I r. We’re here to defeat Dash, and our goal would be that we be allowed to do that as we work towards the final goals for this campaign. What we’ve done is we’ve turned to our rocky hosts and they’ve been quite helpful by the way, particularly of late, to provide us the protection that we need to operate from sanctuary here in our bases in Iraq. In terms of comparing the threat of dash Teoh Iranian inspired groups, I think that’s Ah, I think that’s a matter of apples and oranges. Dash is definitely a malign ideology that threatens not only our area but the entire world. Where is the Iranian Militia groups are responsive to a nation state. So I guess what I’ll say is that Dash is the bigger threat to the world. And we’re grateful for the 77 nation global coalition that maintains its resolve to achieve the interim during the feet of dash. Thanks for a question, Tom Bowman of it NPR. What if you could expand on Isis in Syria? Where are you seeing them? They slipping back into the cities like doors, or are they moving west into the Syrian government area. It also are you seeing any of them move north into turkey? Just give us a sense of the lay down and the increasing threat if there is one. Yes, Tom, thanks for your question. And so, with regards toe dash activities in Syria, we do see a residual presence of dash as they continue to find sanctuary in the more rural areas of Syria. That’s what keeps us there. By the way, you know the remnants of Dash that remain there largely ineffective Dash has been reduced to a low level insurgency. And so what we do as a coalition is what we do, working through our partners in Syria to seek them out wherever they seek sanctuary Teoh to eliminate them. And so the particular movements that you describe those aren’t things that I’m specifically tracking. As you know, along the eastern border of Syria, there is a bit of a concentration of dash still at the low insurgency levels. But what are Syrian Defense Force partners on what coalition forces a whole remain committed to is rooting them out wherever we find them, and it’s been quite successful. In his first heading North into Turkey using any evidence of that. Eso our interactions with Turkey from this to Joe are fairly limited. As you know, we’re focused on Iraq and Syria were aware of some of the Turkish activities to deal with some of the terrorist threats to that nation on. And I know that you come on NATO work with the Turks on this matter, sir. Moving back to the phone lines Courtney Cuvee of NBC. I think two quick questions, if some your opening statement You mentioned that the casualty yesterday in Syria was conducting a security patrol the release that it wasn’t doing any contact. You tell us what happened there and then, um, my actual question is about coalition forces encountering Russian forces in Syria. There have been a number of reports, mainly on social media and some local press, that recently there are increasing number of encounters between Russian forces and particularly US military, but also coalition along, particularly along the roadways in eastern Syria. How often are you seeing that happen? Isn’t something that have occurred on a daily basis? And is it is it Are you getting any instances work escalating? Yes, I think I understand both their questions. So first, all addressed today, yesterday is very unfortunate mishap where we lost a U. S. Soldier who is important part of our coalition. The first, the the incident is still under investigation. We have no indications that that patrol was anything other than a normal patrol. And, uh and we look forward to learning more about the cause of that unfortunate mishap on loss with regards to our broader interactions with Russia in the eastern serious security area. Our purpose there is Teoh ensure the enduring military defeat of Dash. And so, while the coalition pursues its objectives and interests, Russian forces do the same and those interests aren’t quite aligned. And so our goal is to maintain both in the air and on the ground sufficient deconfliction between Russian forces and coalition forces to reduce the chance of any sort of a miscalculation. There’s a whole series of protocols that enables this deconfliction largely both sides abide by those those protocols and what that allows us to do is keep the forces from all countries safe as they pursue their respective objectives in Syria. Thanks, General. If I could just follow up again how often already they actually encountering face to face. So us and Russians in Syria is it happening on a data on the almost daily basis? And then again on the soldier who was killed. It was a security patrol and there was no enemy. Contact me. Surely you must know. Did they hit an I E. D was a traffic accident. I mean, I know it’s under investigation, but can you just give us a broad stroke of what happened? Sure. And so, with how often does it happen that the Russians and coalition forces are out in some of the same spaces every day? Justus, we conduct patrols. They conduct patrols are largely serve ensuring the during military defeat of dash on. Then they have their own objectives as well. And so contact is actually very frequent. That’s true both on the ground, in the air. And so, frankly, our forces were quite used to operating in close proximity to each other. The goal There’s again deconfliction and avoiding surprises. With regards to yesterday’s patrol, I will tell you that we have no indications that any Russian activity existed at the location of the of the unfortunate loss. Um and then the rest. We’re just gonna have to leave to the investigation. Sir. Moving back here to the room. Lucas Thomason, Lucas Thomassen with Fox News General, How many U. S. Troops are in Syria and Iraq right now? And are there any plans to remove some of those forces? Yes. So on on on numbers. First, I’ll just tell you that our coalition and U. S troop presence very some light as we go through the various phases of the operation in both Syria and Iraq with regards to US force presence in Iraq. With that is something that we continually coordinate with the government of Iraq. And right now the number is 5200. That is the enduring number that we’ve coordinated with our hosts. As they invited us here, I will tell you that those numbers are subject to some discussion as we progress our way through the campaign. And as we work our way through the strategic dialogue that will negotiate and sort through our relationship with Iraq in the future with regards to Syria, those numbers are managed very carefully, um, to make sure that we have sufficient forces to achieve our objectives in Syria and those have been fairly stable for a while. She said 5200 and Iraq and I didn’t hear the number for Syria, General. Yeah, and we try to keep those pretty constant just because the numbers in Syria tend to point to specific capabilities were about how specifically we cite them. Just given kind of our limited footprint there. Thanks, though moving back to the phone lines Sylvie A of a f p. Hello. Hello. Thank you. You say that you are getting smaller, but, um, answering Look at the questions. You seem to say that the number is stable. So how are you getting motor this man? Hey, thanks for your question. I didn’t catch your name in the introduction. And so we’re at that point in our campaign and I covered this. Some in my opening remarks where we’ve been quite successful were continuing to transfer bases back to our rocky hosts. The most recent will be best Maya, where the transfer ceremony occurs on the 25th of July. All of that is a sign of progress. What that it’s allowed us to do is to reduce our footprint here in Iraq. We’re gonna do that slowly, and we’re gonna do that in close coordination with the government of Iraq, but both for U. S forces and coalition forces. We continue to work with our hosts so that our footprint here supports our mutual objectives. So I excuse me so I can follow up. So you are saying that it’s not done yet. You’re going toe toe. Get smaller. This man, I think over time, what you will see is a slow reduction of U. S forces here in Iraq and here in Iraq, in coordination with our Iraqi hosts. Thank you, sir. Geoff Selden, A Voice of America. Jeff General, thank you very much for doing this. Appreciated. Curious. There seemed to be a couple of narratives coming from from the U. S. Military about what’s going on with Isis in Iraq and Syria. On the one hand, we’ve had the Centcom commander General McKenzie talked about that is always going to be around. Yet we also hear repeatedly that the point of the coalition is to deal them. Ah, lasting defeat. So is there some middle ground there? What is the accessible level of of Isis for the mission to be accomplished in Iraq and Syria and also curious about how much impact the what you’ve been noticing in terms of the I attack in Iraq and especially in Syria, they there was an uptick around Ramadan. But what have you seen since then? And how effective have they? Thank you. You bet said that, uh, Jeff, the current state of Isis, and I’ll just spend some time on Iraq First is something that we look at closely with our Iraqi partners all the time. Obviously, it’s our purpose for being here right now. Overall, we assess that dash has been reduced to a low level insurgency. You know, there’s a five stage model out there that that dash watchers would tend to address or consider. That’s the dash resurgence model were actually migrating away from that because that’s simply not what’s occurring here. And so when we view the dash problem set and dash presence, we talk about it in terms of dash regression, which is really what it is, you know, after six years after liver liberating 110,000 square kilometres and liberating almost eight million people, um, we’ve achieved tremendous success across the coalition and across our partners. And so now where dashes is, they struggle just to find sanctuary in rural locations. Their leadership, their finances, their logistics, their media are all just shadows of what they used to be. And so for us, you know, one of our signs of success is that Dash does not and cannot control terrain. And so once you devolved to the point that you have a low level insurgency hiding in the rural areas, in places, in caves and in mountains in this region, you’ve largely succeeded. And so it’s it’s a matter of maintaining them on that level. I think we in the our Iraqi partners as well as the coalition aligned Syrian forces have ah no illusions that Dash will never be fully eradicated. But within Iraq and Syria, we’ve reduced their military strength and also their their military potential immensely. And now what we really rely on is the 77 nations in the global coalition to continue to work on the real root of the problem, which is the dash ideology. So are moving back here to the room. Laurie Mallory of Kurdistan 24. Lauren Thank you and thank you, general, for doing this. On Monday, there was a meeting in your bill that the coalition attended between the peshmerga and the Iraqi security forces about courting that coordinating to fight Isis in disputed territories. Can you tell us about those discussions? What objectives you want those discussions to achieve and how close or far the two sides are from achieving them? Yes, ma’am. Hey, thanks for your question. You know, we were really encouraged by that meeting that just occurred on Monday both for the substance of that meeting, but also what it reflects in terms of ah renewed willingness for Iraq toe work on both sides of the crudest coordination line for the good of the nation’s security. And so, from a coalition perspective here to ensure the enduring military defeat of Dash our goal would be that the Partnership for the Nation across both sides of the Kurdish coalition Curtis Coordination line allow Dash no sanctuary. Now, operationally, there has been the problem of some dash sanctuary existing in the terrain, but also in the location That’s fairly close to the Kasey L, as we call it. And I think this cooperation is a great step towards eliminate eliminating that one of those last sanctuaries. So is a coalition what we could do and helping? Helping in that is weaken. Bring the parties together on Then we can be a clear eyed with regards to what support the coalition can and can’t provide. Aziz. Iraqi security forces go forward, but we were definitely encouraged here in the room. Ryan Braun of CNN. Ryan, General, Thanks for doing this. I just wanted to follow up on the one question that Kourtney asked about the Russians quickly. I know Deconfliction has been in place for a while. You said the number of incidences has is become fairly common. What is your assessment as to what the Russians were trying to achieve? Are they trying to push us and coalition personnel out of Syria? They Are they playing pressure with these patrols that air in these increasing interactions? Well, in terms of that, the overall purpose of Russian presence in Syria it’s obviously about the regime which we oppose. We continue from a US perspective. We continue support the objectives laid out in U. N. Security Council resolution 22 54 and so now is the coalition, the U. S. And and Russia go about their respective objectives. We are gonna have interactions with those forces. I’ll give you an air perspective first. Every day, coalition air flies over the top of Syria, providing force protection and rooting out the remnants of dash in Syrian terrain. Likewise, the Russians go out and fly for sometimes for the same reasons, plus as they provide support to the Syrian regime Farther on the west side of Syria, despite all that combat power in the air and in the same piece of sky are are very professional. Coalition aviators continues to successfully deconflict from the Russians. And so that gives you a sense of the day to day play from an airman’s perspective, which I’m happy to offer you from a ground perspective, that contact is justice frequent. And so our concern isn’t about the number of incidents. Our troops. We’re going to see each other out on the roads day in and day out as they pursue their respective objectives. Our goal is toe, make sure we abide by the deconfliction protocols and that we make sure that none of those contacts become escalatory. And by and large we’ve been very successful, and so I think, you know, without giving too much credit to our rush. The to the Russian counterparts were in Syria, and we talked to them multiple times a day. I think both sides agree that neither nation wants any sort of a miscalculation on and just a quick follow up on that and get to my actual question his apologies. Music by and large, I mean, have there been a number of incidents that were considered unsafe or unprofessional with the Russians, as these increased contacts have occurred after you say, by and large, But that kind of implies that there have been unsafe, unprofessional interactions. Well, I’ll just talk about, and I know that some of the other acts that you’re referring to that you know, were reportedly occurring outside this. So joa, I’ll just focus on what happens in eastern Syria and in eastern Syria. At the tactical level, at the soldier to soldier level, there’s always risk for misunderstanding where what we really impart on our forces is the importance of de escalating situations when there is misunderstanding and abiding by the deconfliction protocols that we maintain with the Russians. And so while there is potential, there is, we deal with armed personnel. Well, we’ve not experienced any really significant, uh, interactions between the two forces. I know is something that we all watch very carefully, thank you. And I know with cove it the U. S and coalition stopped accompanying Iraqi and SDF forces on raids. Has that changed, or you still no longer accompanying when they move on the objective? Yeah. Hey, thanks very much for that question. And I think this is a great opportunity to highlight where we are in the campaign. You know, not too long ago, we were very involved in. You know what? I’ll call ah, train, advise, assist efforts, working very closely with our partners very close to the tactical edge. We’ve trained so many Iraqi forces now in their functioning so self sufficiently that has given us the opportunity toe what I’ll call lift up our partnership and put it a much higher level of command instead of focusing on accompanying them tactically. Now, what we do is we advise at the operational to strategic level. What that means is that coalition forces really aren’t out there on the front lines. The Iraqis don’t need us on their exercising immense initiative. The majority of the operations that we see out of our Iraqi partners are unilateral and quite successful. They’re moving back to the phone lines. Ah, Jeff. Showgirl of tasking purpose, Jeff. Thank you very much. The former, uh, envoy to isis threatens hurt tweeted a video of Russian vehicle of Russian vehicles being in interacting with us convoy and said the president needs to tell Russian President Putin to stop harassing us troops. So I ask you, these Russian vehicles and these Russian interactions on the ground are the Russians harassing US troops. And so, Jeff, I want to make sure I read back your question to you came in a little bit broken. I think what you’re asking is, you know, what’s the nature of the interactions between Russian and U. S. Convoys? And to what degree does harassment occur between the Russian forces and U. S forces? Have I got that one right? In short, our Russians harassing us troops. Yes. Thank you. Yeah, its thanks. And so, uh, Jeff, the what you might call harassment, which is, you know, less than absolute professional conduct between the Russians and the US occurs on rare occasions. By and large, what we find is that the Russians abide by the protocols that we’ve put in place. They abide by the rules of the road, if you will, that occur at the tactical level between our convoys. And it’s very rare that a misunderstanding triggers some higher emotions or some sort of harassment between the two sets of forces. You know what? In those very limited cases where misunderstanding occurs, one of the things that we really trusting can count on is the professionalism of U. S forces who win opportunities When you know when incidents like that present de escalate the situation and come back the next day. Thank you. Just a very quick question. I know you’ve been asked several times how often these interactions with the Russians take place. I’m guessing you get briefed on this at your battle Update Freezing. Can you give us a range? How frequent? These interactions with the Russians are daily, weekly monthly. So we interact with the Russians out in the Syrian battlespace almost every day. Our convoys were very frequent as our there’s we we co exist in some of the same spaces as we do that we abide by the deconfliction protocols, but whether it’s on the ground or in the air, we see each other all the time. Thanks, sir. I’m moving back to the phone lines. Hope sec of military dot com Hope General, thank you so much for your time. Uh, so you mentioned, of course, the July 4th stand up, the military advisory group and the transition taking place there. You also said specifically the, um it had been in a mental in, uh, some recent mission execution. Can you speak specifically to, uh, to the admissions and how that advisory group is informing them and just provide some color in detail there? Hope? Absolutely. So the military advisory group that we just found it on the second of July is really one of the cornerstones for where we are in the successful prosecution of this phase. First, it’s intensely coalition, so it is not just us. It’s made up by a broad variety of officers from 13 different countries, right? We are one coalition next. What it does is it relies increasingly on the Iraqis ability to coordinate, cooperate and generate unilateral operations. We pride now high level advice on how to choreograph large scale operations within, Ah, rocky terrain. And what the mag also does is it connects Iraqi operations with those capabilities that they haven’t fully developed. What do I mean by that intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, in depth planning, support and then finally strike assets. And so the mag doesn’t just provide advice. It connects the Iraqis to those specific resource is that they’re still developing within their own armed forces. Can you speak specifically Teoh? Any recent missions in which this a collaboration has been successful? Yes, sure hopes. So we recently completed a multi day large force multi Iraqi force operation in northeast Iraq called Heroes of Iraq, for that suggests that there was a one through three there absolutely was. And here is a rock Four was the latest large scale operation that they coordinated across multiple parts of the Iraqi military to clear significant swaths of terrain where di ash remnants of die ash continue to sake sanctuary. And so these clearing operations air quite successful. Everything from enemy captured, some material recovered. They include ah lot of intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance planning and build up and include limited strikes and so signature large scale events like that are really what harness the horse power of the mag. What I also want to highlight, though, is while we look at those signature operations, it’s actually the day to day, uh, constant getting after it that Iraqi forces do at the at the kind of the region level, or the operations center level that really have a high impact on the battle space that occurs all over Iraq every day on a very unilateral basis. And so what we’re finding is they simply don’t need our help for the day to day business of of securing a lot of a lot of the country. Thank you. Thank you, sir. Jared Zuba of Al Monitor. Jared, I said about 30 minutes in Syria. I was wondering if you could elaborate that on that, um, that’s against Isis. That gave the game northeast Syria. And what, uh, U s European command, uh, involvement. And that is thank you. Hey, Jared. And forgive me. I heard the words Syria and Isis. That was about it. Could Jessica, could you maybe relayed your it’s question for me, sir? Actually, it was mumbled for me as well. Jared, could you please repeat your question slowly, please. Sure. Let’s see if this works. Um, sir, thank you for doing this. I was wondering if you could elaborate on Turkey’s efforts. You had mentioned that Turkey has undertaken efforts against terrorism in Syria. On I was wondering, uh what, uh, what NATO and European commands rule in? That is, if you could elaborate on that, please. Thank you. Okay, Jared. So I think I caught more than I think you are asking about Turkish operations in Syria against the Y p g. Have I got that about right? Yes, sir. That’s correct. Okay. Yes. Oh, thanks for your question. And so first, you know, the coalition is in Syria to help ensure the defeat of Dash right. We continue to get after the dash remnants every day, and we do that largely through our coalition aligned Syrian forces. Obviously, the nation of Turkey has its own interest on its own security interests within the northern part of Syria. On our goal within that, frankly, is just to stay de conflicted from them. There’s a lot of deconfliction going on, as you can tell in the Northern Strip along the top of Syria And so for us, our goal is toe not have any sort of incidents with Syrian forces. They are a NATO ally, after all. And what we do is we follow their activities very closely to make sure that there’s no accidental involvement between us and them. I’m for about two more questions. Laura Seligman of Politico Laura on the line. I my questions unanswered. Thank you. OK, thanks. Laura James Martone. Are you still on the line? James, is that you? Okay. Here in the room, sir. Back to Lucas of Fox. Tom, listen, Fox News. It appears that the rocket attacks against Baghdad have been increasing in recent weeks. You said earlier in the briefing that the Iranian backed forces air not your focus, but aren’t these rocket attacks which you blame on those forces making? You have to focus on this threat. And is it increasing? Yes. Oh, thanks for your question. With regards to rocket attacks, those there’s absolutely pose a risk to coalition forces. You know, they have caused casualties among our coalition forces within the calendar year 2020. Given the focus of our mission being here. Teoh defeat dash way. We turn to our government of Iraq hosts toe help create the security conditions here that allow us to continue our mission. You know, since the government formation, we’ve seen a lot of initiative exercise by the government of Iraq, but also by their security forces to create the security conditions that we need to continue to operate. And so we applaud their efforts on appreciate everything that they do to keep coalition forces residing on Iraqi bases safe as we conduct our mission and just one quick follow up. Why are all these mysterious explosions happening in Iran? Is there anything you could tell us about that? What’s what’s causing them? Yeah. And so I agree with you that there mysterious We absolutely focused on our mission here in, Ah, Iraq and Syria, and I just I won’t. I won’t hazard a guess on what’s happening on Iranian soil. Thank you. Well, that’s all the time we have for questions, sir. Do you have any final words for us? Yeah. Hey, Jessica. Thanks very much. I appreciate the chance to talk to you today about our righteous mission in CGT fo ir, and I would just leave you with a few things first. I hope you gauge from the substance of this discussion how quite capable the Iraqi security forces have become their building on their and our success is and they’re increasingly able to conduct unilateral operations. Teoh defeat the, uh, the remnants of dash that exist within the country. Um, next, because of their success, it’s allowed us to make some progress here within the coalition. You see that, by way of the base consolidation that we’re doing is we turn the bases back over to our rocky hosts and you will see some degree of reduction of forces here in Iraq. That’s just what success looks like. And then finally, you know, is a coalition member among 26 different troop contributing nations. It is my honor to serve alongside the nations who are willing to send forces here. Teoh, pursue this absolutely important mission, you know? So we have a slogan here that we use is we conclude, conclude formal events. It is one mission. Many nations. We absolutely abide by that. Thanks for your attention today. Thanks, sir. Thank you for your time today. I hope you have a wonderful evening. This concludes today’s press briefing. Thank you.