Remarks by General John R. Allen at The Prime Minister’s Guest House — Baghdad, Iraq

It is good to be back in Baghdad and to see so many familiar faces. I want to thank the Prime Minister and COMSEC for hosting us today. I also want to thank the Iraqi deputy ministers, Dr. Hamid, Dr. Turki, German Chargé Milan Simandl and leaders who have come together to discuss a series of efforts that are vital to the peaceful and prosperous future of Iraq.

We also have a team today from the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, the UN, and the EU to learn from you today. We will bring your message back to the other Coalition partners who will meet in Berlin on Wednesday.

When I was here last, Prime Minister Abadi and I spoke about the importance of planning for Stabilization Operations.  I have come to Baghdad today with a team of experts because we agreed that Stabilization planning must begin in earnest.  Today and tomorrow our team will learn and understand how the Coalition can best support the Iraqi plan for stabilizing territories your country will take back from Daesh.

As Daesh is defeated in population centers and the military forces must move on to other objectives, there will be an immediate need for policing and public security efforts to set the conditions for essential service delivery. Populations that have fled the fighting will need shelter, assistance, and security, until they can return home. In many cases facilities will have been destroyed or made insecure by IEDs. Providers will need to rapidly assess and respond with basic medical care, water, electricity and other municipal services. All first responders, whether civil or military, should be sensitized to the special needs of those who’ve suffered under Daesh, especially women and girls.

A successful stabilization effort begins with fair treatment during military operations.  We applaud Iraqi leaders, including His Eminence Ayatollah Sistani, who publicly called for the protection of civilians and warned against acts of revenge, recrimination, or abuse against civilians or prisoners. It also means protecting the schools, hospitals, water treatment facilities and securing antiquities and, libraries. These measures begin the process of reunifying Iraq and building trust between liberated communities and the Government of Iraq.

It is also critical for military and civilian ministries to work together from the beginning. Military forces need to understand how civilian stabilization operations will follow military operations. As part of our team today, we have experts on the provision of health services, restoring water and electricity, on policing and civilian-military planning, and on addressing the specific needs of women, children and vulnerable populations.  Over the next two days they will work with you to identify how to synchronize civilian and military plans, and identify how the Coalition can work with you.

As I see it, there are four components to the counter-offensive that must be synchronized.

First, is the clearing element when the Iraqi Army and the Popular Mobilization Forces remove Daesh from a town or city.

Second is the security and policing element that deals with crime and provides general security so life can return to normal.  This will likely come from a combination of PMF units, local tribes, and police.

Third is restoring local governance which will be difficult because many officials are in exile, were killed, or cooperated with Daesh.

Fourth, is providing for essential services including short-term restoration of services such as health, water, electricity, and rebuilding critical infrastructure.

These four components will be applied differently to the circumstances found in each liberated area.  It is important that you plan uniquely for each city and town, and prepare the necessary resources.

Several Coalition partners have expressed a specific interest in offering technical and planning support to assist Iraq by filling any gaps in implementing Iraqi-led stabilization efforts.  We will look to the leadership of Dr. Hamid and Dr. Turki to identify where assistance is needed and to communicate the Iraqi stabilization plan to the Coalition partners.

After this visit to Baghdad I will go to Berlin, where Germany and the United Arab Emirates will launch the Coalition Stabilization Working Group.  This Working Group will work with the Government of Iraq to organize Coalition support to stabilization operations and identify resources.

It is difficult to overstate the importance of these critical activities. The stabilization effort will be the most important signal of the intentions of this government towards any and all Iraqi’s who have been victims of Daesh and those who have been driven from their homes.  Iraq’s future as a unified nation depends upon how the liberating force treats those living under Daesh rule.

Stabilization operations can be expensive and require dedicated resources.   We applaud the inclusion in the budget of $2 billion for recovery funding and support of displaced Iraqis. It will be essential to move resources quickly to the liberated areas most in need. As you continue to clarify stabilization and recovery needs, we will work with the United Nations to further develop the concept of a trust fund and find appropriate support.  The Coalition does not have the resources to resource all of Iraq’s needs.  We will work together to assist and support Iraq as we are able.

The recovery of Iraqis from under Daesh’s control is now beginning in earnest. We are already seeing the results of your early work in Diyala, and hopefully soon in Tikrit. Today, we want to hear from you about what you have seen to date, what lessons we can learn from the last few months, and what you anticipate the requirements are to stabilize liberated areas.

I look forward to learning more about Iraq’s efforts to bring stability to liberated areas from today’s conversation and to identify future actions necessary to ensure success in the days and months to come.

And now I would like to hand it over to my German partner, Chargé Milan Simandl, whose nation is energetically engaged in this important effort.