28 Nov, 2006 - Session 2 at the Rīga Conference: Afghanistan - New Challenges for NATO's Transformation
Mr. Fred Kempe, President, The Atlantic Council
H.E. Radoslaw Sikorski, the Minister of Defense of Poland
H.E. Peter MacKay, the Foreign Minister of Canada
General James L. Jones, Supreme Allied Commander Europe
The Hon. Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, National Security Advisor of Afghanistan
FRED KEMPE, PRESIDENT, THE ATLANTIC COUNCIL: What NATO differently (AUDIO GAP) have talked about. As with (AUDIO GAP) the intention here is to be as interactive as possible. I will start by asking questions of the panelists. I hope (AUDIO GAP) intervene with each other at a certain point and get some agreement - disagreement on the panel.
And then I will go to the audience. And I hope you'll be sharp with your questions. Identify yourself, say who you'd like to direct the question to, and I've been directed to intervene if anyone on the panel goes too long or if anyone in the audience goes too long. That doesn't mean we want to be superficial, however, because I think we want to actually pull the gap.
NATO's success during the Cold War came from its (AUDIO GAP). By the folded (ph) gap, preparedness to stop Soviet (INAUDIBLE) troops from rolling through the flatlands of Germany.
Its success or (INAUDIBLE) (AUDIO GAP) caveats as far as I know in stopping troops of the (AUDIO GAP). So, in short if NATO previously triumphed through over-preparedness for a war that never occurred the issue today is how NATO will grapple with fighting the war for which it is under-prepared.
Afghanistan is today's fold-a-gap (ph) because it's the place at which the alliance will have to turn back today and the place of which the alliance is being tested. As Dr. Brzezinski said this morning, we're talking about fighting global turbulence, not some massive enemy.
So, the purpose of this panel will be two-fold. It will be to assess how NATO is doing in this situation. But, more importantly, we'll try to come up with recommendations, with some concrete ideas of what we're learning on the ground of what NATO actually has to change. What transformation - how transformation is linked with Afghanistan. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we'll use Afghanistan to take a look at the larger questions.
We have a perfect panel for this discussion. It couldn't be better structured. And I'll - I won't go into people's biographies in any great length. I'll do this very briefly so that we can get the discussion going.
But first of all we'll start with General Jones who's ending, I think, a historically successful tenure. And I won't list all of his accomplishments, but you can see them on the graph and you can see them in how NATO has transformed from the Prague Summit to what it's doing now. He's at the pointy edge of the mission that we're talking about. So thank you very much for joining as, I think, as you are just about to step out the door and back to the United States and civilian life.
And then Canadian Foreign Minister Peter MacKay represents the country that has suffered a disproportionate number of the casualties in Afghanistan. And it will be good to have your insights about the alliance's strengths and weaknesses on the ground as you've had in order to have your insights about the Alliance's strength and weakness on the ground that you have observed them. Mr. Christoph Bertram is pinch-hitting for Radoslaw Sikorski, the Defense Minister who could not be here. But in a way it is a good pinch-hit this week since Christoph is also a journalist think-tanker and one of the top strategic thinkers in Germany.
He wrote a very important paper that has been handed out to you in the preparatory package for this conference about the transformation of NATO (AUDIO GAP). So he joins us less as an expert on Afghanistan and more of an expert on NATO and its transformation.
And also in a week where Der Spiegel said (INAUDIBLE) (AUDIO GAP) cover the Deutsch en Muchin Tertenlandin (ph) which means the Germans must learn to kill again. So it will be interesting to see what you have to say about that.
And finally and possibly most importantly on this panel, Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, a medical doctor who also happens to be the National Security Advisor of Afghanistan. He can give us his diagnosis of how NATO is doing and how the corpus of his country is doing.
So let me start with General Jones. And as I said, let's take the title of this panel (AUDIO GAP).
JAMES JONES, SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER EUROPE: (AUDIO GAP), NATO has in fact (AUDIO GAP) in Afghanistan really thus far (AUDIO GAP). The overall plan for NATO was born (AUDIO GAP) Munich (AUDIO GAP) and we now have just completed since that period of time that now has NATO for security and stability in (AUDIO GAP).
(AUDIO GAP) troops under NATO command, 24 (AUDIO GAP) and a very I think important (AUDIO GAP) time this past expansion, what we call where largely thanks to the bravery of Canadian soldiers, UK soldiers and others who have worked in the south we have answered an important test about NATO's commitment and willingness to stay the course and to answer the military challenge.
There are certain obvious lessons that are being learned as we go along. But one of them for me is that when NATO agrees to do a mission and the Alliance takes a decision, those decisions have to be resourced, especially in Afghanistan. So that means that the political decision has to be accompanied and supported by an equal commitment to resource it and manpower it in military capability and obviously finances that go with that.
Secondly I think...
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: And then what you're saying there is, first and foremost, that hasn't been done sufficiently.
JONES: Well, I think it's actually compared - when you resource something in the alliance historically up to about 85 percent of the requirement, which is where we were. That's a pretty high number historically. But when you have a mission where people are actually being shot at and you do have combat operations, that 10 or 15 percent delta becomes more important. (AUDIO GAP) restricted by (AUDIO GAP).
In Kosovo, we had the uprising in 2004, the civil disturbance. We were fortunate there that it wasn't more serious, but the end result is that we learned lessons in Kosovo. The commander of the Kosovo mission has 16,000 NATO troops with virtually no caveats, and no national restrictions. (AUDIO GAP) goal in Afghanistan is to do that as well and to get the family of 37 nations, 26 NATO nations and 11 non-NATO nations, who are participating.
This is an incredible international undertaking supported by all the UN resolutions that you could want, all the legal justifications for this mission. We will - and we need to continue to make better progress in fully resourcing the military requirement, and doing away as much as possible with the most restrictive caveats that we have on the use of that force.
KEMPE: Before you go to your third point, how much what (AUDIO GAP) you had with that thus far in reducing - you had great luck in Kosovo, because (AUDIO GAP) some naming and shaming, whether it was through leaks or through whatever else. But (AUDIO GAP) out and people were available to you. Most recently (AUDIO GAP) suffering casualties. In other words, will other countries be in the south.
JONES: Well, I hope no one suffers casualties. And then that may be a little far-fetched, but what it does give the commander is an opportunity to maneuver his force in such a way that perhaps he can prevent future conflicts in different areas.
And it's not just for fighting, Fred; it's for humanitarian operations, for disaster relief. For making a statement in a - by show of force (AUDIO GAP) that we need - the commander needs a certain mass and a certain flexibility for.
And so that's the combination of restrictions and fully resourcing the military requirement, which I still think is valid. It's not about going beyond that. It's about just doing what we said we were going to do, and doing it for the right reasons.
KEMPE: And I'm sorry to have interrupted General.
JONES: Not at all.
KEMPE: What else would you list as lessons then?
JONES: Well I would, the other goes back to such things as the more rapid system of acquisition...
KEMPE: Or what else would you list as lessons there?
JONES: The other goes back to such things as the more rapid system of acquisitions for what the soldiers in the field really need in NATO. For example we've had - its taken us a long time to field some of the requirements that were identified for the troops - and we need to do better then.
This is more of an administrative bureaucratic problem within the alliance and I would (INAUDIBLE) and I think we should be very careful that we are spending our resources correctly. We still have, I think, a Cold War mentality on how we spend our money. And we need to understand that as the alliance votes to take on more missions in the world, you can't support those missions if the budgets are going down.
So there's a combination of things on those lines. Multinational logistics is a subject for expeditionary operations that I think needs more clarity. Why should nations come into a mission and have to bring in their entire national (INAUDIBLE) with them including building camps to occupy and then taking those camps down so another country comes in and rebuild the camps (INAUDIBLE)?
This gets very expensive for nations and I think there is some (INAUDIBLE) better there, much more work, although we've moved out on this, in common intelligence. We generally exist as the largest of the contributing nations but NATO does need organic intelligence capabilities. It allows these expeditionary forces, particularly an organization like the NRF, to be able to go out and do the things on a rapid basis.
More integrated communication. (AUDIO GAP) architecture. Deployable communications. This expeditionary world at strategic distances demands that we just look at everything. And we become more agile. And we build into the system those things that are absolutely vital so that we can operate.
KEMPE: And about NATO and its communications with the United Nations. Communications with the European Union. It came up this morning with the Secretary General. How much of a problem is the less functional communication between NATO and the European ground?
JONES: Well, it's not so much that particular one, although the logic for it is beyond question. But to the notion that NATO even though it has a limited mandate in securities and stability to enable reconstruction and development. But if that security is not linked ongoing a multinational and multi-organizational reconstruction and development (AUDIO GAP) have some dysfunctional (AUDIO GAP) going on.
I believe that (AUDIO GAP) like Medusa in the south, that should be (AUDIO GAP) very cohesively by (AUDIO GAP) re-development that follow military operations.
The (AUDIO GAP) for Afghanistan has more to do with fusing the international reconstruction and development efforts in support of whatever military operations in such a way that we absolutely must tackle the counter-narcotics problem more successfully.
We absolutely must (AUDIO GAP) in budgets going down national logistics problems, intelligence (AUDIO GAP)
KEMPE: I won't go through them all, narcotics, judicial, et cetera - if we don't fix all that, are we on our way to a disaster? Are we on our way - could we have a situation where five years from now, just as with Iraq, we say, "Well, where did that come from?" Or at current levels of commitment, without the changes you're talking to, are we due for failure?
JONES: No, I think that (AUDIO GAP) most wealthy nations on earth can find a way to make this work. I'm convinced of that. There are some things that we just need to stitch together better. I think that NATO forces for instance cannot operate independently of the reconstruction and development. Nor can reconstruction development operate independently.
So, we need that mechanism whereby NATO not only speaks to the EU for example, but to all aspects of what we're trying to do and we focus on all those things that really have to absolutely be done now, which I just listed for you.
But I take the - given all of the assets are there and all of the commitments that are there, given the level of violence which has to be put in proportion to a lot of other things that are going on in the world, one can (AUDIO GAP) not draw a negative picture of Afghanistan right now.
If we don't do that, I think it will take a lot longer. I think we will have more casualties and I think we will, at some point, we could be victimized by the enemy's war of attrition. Which is what their strategy is.
It's death by 1,000. All they're trying to do is inflict twos, threes, fours, and fives and 10s and eventually hoping that the family of nations, all 37 of us, will get tired of that and we will start falling (AUDIO GAP) the cohesion will fall.
There is a way to fight that. It is partially (INAUDIBLE) it is not only military. It is far more about efficient reconstruction and development and effect on the right things. And I believe personally, and Dr. Rasool and I have talked about this many times, that narcotics is the single most important cancer that's going to effect our success in the long-run.
And we have to deal with that. Simultaneously judicial reform, police...
JONES: ...us in the long run, and we have to deal with that simultaneously, judicial reform, police reform, attack on corruption and crime and then I think, and then the reconstruction development that goes on, and I think you have a good strategy for success and I am optimistic that we can do this.
KEMPE: Thank you for getting us launched in that way. I think that sets the theme for us very nicely. But I want to underline what you said, which is if one doesn't make some of the changes, take longer casualties, death by a thousand, IUDs, so you are optimistic as is your job. But on the other hand, it sounds like you would be a lot more optimistic if some changes would be made.
JONES: Yes, I think we need to put some things together that need to be able to create the proper effects in (INAUDIBLE) period of time, and so I think that the optimism is one of vision as opposed to one of reality. The reality will be, you know, what we do with it.
KEMPE: Foreign Minister MacKay, you offered, if I am not mistaken (AUDIO GAP) taken the most casualties on the ground.
HE PETER MACKAY, FOREIGN MINISTER OF CANADA: We have suffered 44 combat casualties as well as one diplomat, two as recently as yesterday. So, I mean I take a realistic but optimistic view as well. I agree with much of what General Jones has said as to what has to follow.
This concept of, you know, the thousands of attacks, the insurgents prove beyond a shadow of a doubt though Taliban are not ten feet tall. They are dangerous. They are determined, and they come back in such a way that it has been a challenge for sure. And I think that the overall NATO mission clearly is going through a bit of a redefinition as to how we measure the successes.
And I think one of the most important things that I have heard here early in this panel, and I am pleased to once again join you (INAUDIBLE). And I think this is a very (AUDIO GAP), has to be a whole of NATO approach. It (AUDIO GAP) militarily. It is going to be like creating a secure (AUDIO GAP) that way or to use the (AUDIO GAP) gap is going to have to be filled with the military but (AUDIO GAP) reconstruction and development.
(AUDIO GAP) and a firm (AUDIO GAP) to get those things done as quickly as possible (AUDIO GAP) able to gain ground as we were in operation Medusa. (AUDIO GAP) coming in, getting (AUDIO GAP) schools, hospitals (AUDIO GAP) well, clearing the way for the (AUDIO GAP) to (AUDIO GAP) hold of some semblance of an organization (AUDIO GAP).
(AUDIO GAP) and you can (AUDIO GAP) something where they can get their goods to market, where they can (AUDIO GAP) without fear that they're going to be murdered. Those schools being burnt (AUDIO GAP). The feeling that (AUDIO GAP) people that even after some military protection (AUDIO GAP) they they're (AUDIO GAP). The American's and the Dutch and others are willing. And that's (AUDIO GAP) this weekend and (AUDIO GAP).
KEMPE: Countries who thus far have not been willing to come to the south (ph).
PETER MACKAY: Well, frankly, yes. And losing young men and women is the surest way that that'll happen. We've gone through that pain as have other countries. So, to be very honest with you there has to be some tangible proof of progress. And I think the London/Afghan compact sets the sign post along that road. And progress is being made, there's no denying that. It's not getting through necessarily. The message isn't get through that the progress is there. And it's sometimes more difficult to demonstrate that progress, although the statistics do tell the tale.
You know, five million kids are now in school, 1/3 of them are girls. Girls couldn't go to school before. I mean I have sisters, if some one said your country is not letting young girls go to school, that to me would be a sure sign that a country was slipping, that it was falling away. In five years, having millions of young girls in school is a sure sign of progress. Women being able to vote, fully participate in society, serve in government. Sure signs of progress.
In addition to the infrastructure that's being built. But all of that in total can be eroded in terms of public support if you're losing soldiers. If soldiers are coming home in coffins that's a very difficult thing. Especially for a younger generation, I think for people around the world, it's a very difficult thing.
KEMPE: What's your lesson for countries here that may be put in the position of Canada? I think these are your first war casualties since - is it since World War II or since Korea?
PETER MACKAY: Well, we've had casualties in Korea and we've had casualties on peacekeeping missions but (AUDIO GAP). I think this is another broader discussion about peacekeeping, generally, and Canada is credited to some degree with having come forward with the modern concept of peacekeeping. But it's changed again, it's now peacemaking.
And the lessons - the lessons are sometimes revisited why we're there and to give the public the proof of the purpose of the mission. And this is about democracy, this is about fundamental rights and freedoms, (AUDIO GAP), generally.
And I think Afghanistan is a much different scenario, if I can put it that way. Or type of conflict than what we're seeing in other parts of the world.
KEMPE: Christoph Bertram, this has not been an easy sell in Germany. Foreign Minister MacKay, his government seems to have sold it to the Canadian people. In many respects, they probably would be less impacted by...
KEMPE: ...many respects they probably would be less impacted by a spread of whatever you want to call it, Islamo-fascism, extremists, terrorism. What is going on in Germany and how can the Germans sit in their safe North and let Canadians die in the South?
CHRISTOPH: Oh come off it. I mean (AUDIO GAP).
KEMPE: It is not "Come off it." This is an alliance (AUDIO GAP) all for what?
CHRISTOPH: I am sorry. This is really the wrong way to ask the question. The Germans have (AUDIO GAP) from day one. They have sent (AUDIO GAP) there. They have had casualties there. Every nation has said we are going to do this. And the Germans have had their Parliament say OK, you get a mandate for this. (AUDIO GAP).
Some nations said we are gong to go South. The Canadians said they were going to the South. We said we go to the North, not because it is safer there but because we undertook that because we thought it was something we could do. Now, the question is not whether we all rush to the South.
I am sure that General Jones would say, please don't. I mean, I need some guys in the North as well. I think it is a ridiculous question the way you put it.
The question is, to what extent the Germans would be willing if need be to assist those in the South as they should. And my understanding is that while they will not move from the North to the South, then (AUDIO GAP) in their deployment and I think we are gong to see (AUDDIO GAP).
KEMPE: Let me try to pose (INAUDIBLE).
CHRISTOPH: Let me because (AUDIO GAP). Afghanistan is not (AUDIO GAP). This is not for the United States (AUDIO GAP) or when Ronald Reagan left, (AUDIO GAP) Iranians (ph) were killed. Transformation from NATO means that stabilization is different (AUDIO GAP) in your territory. (AUDIO GAP) putting in the same basket (AUDIO GAP) you are not doing it using everybody (ph).
Now quite clearly (AUDIO GAP) as much as we can but we also must ask ourselves (AUDIO GAP) and together (AUDIO GAP) what we are doing. As an Alliance we have to do it together. Don't start with the finger-pointing because I don't think that will get you anywhere.
KEMPE: (AUDIO GAP) actually taking place in (AUDIO GAP). So though it is a ridiculous question, it is a question (AUDIO GAP). But (AUDIO GAP), less ridiculous question, what is (AUDIO GAP) understanding of what is at stake and is there support as Mr. MacKay said, there is the danger of death of 1,000 IUDs?
There is the danger (AUDIO GAP), the public (AUDIO GAP) what has to be a long-term mission (AUDIO GAP) in Germany at the moment.
CHRISTOPH: Well you know, the Germans (AUDIO GAP) and these were accepted as (AUDIO GAP) that we sit down rather than you know to leave or (AUDIO GAP) and everything is (AUDIO GAP) and really make a very (AUDIO GAP) what is necessary (AUDIO GAP) in the military field.
There is a lot (AUDIO GAP) doing including my own (AUDIO GAP) and I think that has significant (AUDIO GAP) either. Nor is that sufficient (AUDIO GAP) to say we need civilian support that can not be done like that. You really have to prepare it. If you want you and they to go together you have to give EU a seat in the consultations of NATO. This is what we're going to do what can we contribute. Rather than saying, we're doing this, you have to follow. That's not going to work.
KEMPE: General Jones?
JONES: Just one comment and that is regardless of how we got into the mission, 26 sovereign nations agreed to do this mission. (AUDIO GAP) moved to where we are now. The truth is it's a Chapter 7 operation. There are five NATO Security Council resolutions that identify it as such. So, it was always peace-enforcing.
And peacekeeping is something you get to and there are some areas of Afghanistan where you can do peacekeeping and there are some areas where you have to do peace-enforcing. So it's - but the mandate is - covers, you know, covers a fairly wide sphere of operations.
MACKAY: If I might, I think it's important not to mention the legitimacy and the backing of both the U.N. and NATO as far this mission is concerned. But I mean fundamentally and exporting all forms of terrorism, not the least of which was the attacks of 9/11, every pilot that flew those planes into New York and Washington, Pentagon, they were trained in Afghanistan.
And there's another massive piece of this puzzle that is yet to be figured out or it's a huge conundrum and that is the trans-border movement between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
If you would allow me just to finish, what our wish list would be in itself as Canadians, yes we need more support there. We need more effort on the reconstruction (AUDIO GAP) to win the hearts and minds but there has to be a very practical, concrete plan to stop the movement at the (AUDIO GAP) border. And that's a very complex wish because you (AUDIO GAP) have people moving the Pashtun. They don't see themselves necessarily as Pakistani or Afghani.
(AUDIO GAP). They're more tribal. They're moving across that border freely. It's a huge challenge in terms of the geographic challenges that are there because of the nature of the terrain. I've spoken to (AUDIO GAP) both President Musharraf and Prime Minister Aziz about this (AUDIO GAP).
KEMPE: And then their response to you?
MACKAY: Well, they acknowledge the extent of the problem. And in fairness, they have taken some steps - significant steps to try to control the border. But it's impossible I would suggest for them to do it alone.
And it's going to take, I would suggest, greater engagement on the part of the (AUDIO GAP) NATO. And another point to make is that there are - while there are 37 participants in the NATO-backed mission, there are also in total...
MACKAY: ...and another point to make is that while there are 37 participants in the NATO backed mission, there are also in total 60 countries, 60 when we start totaling up those that are involved in the reconstruction and the rehabilitation and NGOs and other humanitarian workers that are there.
So that work is of equal importance when it comes to the overall stability and the eventual turning over, and this is of course what we all want to see. We want to see the Afghan people to walk on their own. So there are other contributions that can be made in terms of equipment and training and those provincial reconstruction (AUDIO GAP) come from those (AUDIO GAP) membership of NATO.
KEMPE: Thank you. (AUDIO GAP) the German (AUDIO GAP) are so quickly (AUDIO AP), almost everything that we are facing is political, somehow (AUDIO GAP) keeping the mission. But we will come back (AUDIO GAP). But I wonder if you can tell us (AUDIO GAP) now that you have heard what your response is.
As you are watching (AUDIO GAP) invitation in your country with (AUDIO GAP) and the U.N. (AUDIO GAP). What is your diagnosis? How is it (AUDIO GAP) you would like to see fixed?
ZALMAI RASSOUL, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR OF AFGHANISTAN: (AUDIO GAP) two points. Why we are in Riga, we are talking about Afghanistan. We are in Riga because Afghanistan (AUDIO GAP) to death. Today (AUDIO GAP) country is (AUDIO GAP) finished (INAUDIBLE) alone.
(AUDIO GAP) neighbors, then became the ground of terrorism. Afghan people have been (AUDIO GAP) and one (AUDIO GAP). What that (INAUDIBLE) when (INAUDIBLE) (AUDIO GAP), Soviet with 150,000 soldiers and tremendous fire power (INAUDIBLE) that was.
So the will of the Afghan people for freedom, for democracy, for human rights and woman rights has been tremendous (INAUDIBLE) allow the politician to win and today (AUDIO GAP) same feeling as with the NATO.
That (INAUDIBLE) is tremendous support among Afghan peoples to the (INAUDIBLE) NATO forces in Afghanistan which is something very important if you want to win this war, which is not the case in some other countries.
So this war is to win against terrorism. I think the terrorism is a more important threat today, to this way of life that we are sharing with you, democratic process today is free press to right of voting, which Afghanistan has had in the last five years. So if we fail in Afghanistan, of course Afghanistan will suffer a loss, but you are suffering for the last 50 years. But I think again the world will suffer for that.
And our analysis is that the terrorism in Islamic extremism and the ways they are being promoted by some countries, is the most dangerous check to security and the democracy in the world.
KEMPE: So your basic message to this audience is, this is (AUDIO GAP), certainly about Afghanistan, but it is about much more. It is about the front line of the battle that (AUDIO GAP)
Now what is your answer to - if things continue at the certain level, the question of General Jones, question of Minister MacKay, you know, are we doomed to failure? In other words, do some changes need to made on the ground from the trend lines that you're forcing? And if so, what are they?
RASSOUL: I think I agree fully with the point about what to do, I just might actually make a couple of more points. I think the vision and issue is very important. Afghanistan issue is not any more (INAUDIBLE) problem divisional issue. I think like the foreign minister said, the full cooperation of Pakistan is vital if you want all the (INAUDIBLE). After all, Pakistan has allied the war on terrorists. So this should do more.
And the issue is not just people crossing the border. The issue of the training camp, logistical support, camp will change there with suicide bombers. So there is a need of much greater cooperation on that issue.
You are engaged with Pakistan. We believe that a stable democratic and peaceful Afghanistan is in the interest of Pakistan, but also in the interest of the whole region. That's the issue.
KEMPE: But we've known this problem a long time with Pakistan. What do you propose NATO does? How does one actually deal with Pakistan in such a way that it could stop this (INAUDIBLE)?
RASSOIL: I think nature's (ph) only been engaged with the Pakistan authority to discuss with them about the importance of that issue, because after the terrorism is not go one way. And after this until you have seen some important development in Pakistan also regarding suicide being in all other issues.
I think NATO, as General Jones has accented, very important country, with a lot of influence. They can put their influence to persuade those - I'm not talking about all the government, but those who continue to support the extremism that they should stop it.
The other point that I would add to what General Jones said, that they need to accelerate the training and equipment of the Afghanistan national security forces. After all, it's our war. And we should be on the front line. We are very sad, even today, that we are seeing they are losing soldiers, any of the friends losing soldiers. We should take these causalities, but to do that we need to be more well equipped, we need to be - and more soldiers should be trained. And as General Jones will confirm, the Afghanistan national army is performing very well, actually with the young army (AUDIO GAP).
KEMPE: (AUDIO GAP) today. That's also a bright point and bodes well for the future. With regard to Pakistan, I recently received the - just last week - the General Husan ad hoc (ph), the equivalent of the...
JONES: ...the equivalent of the chairman, one of the Joint Chiefs of the Pakistani armed forces, at shake for the first time. And he also visited the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Council for some focus meetings.
I've been to Islamabad twice. There's a standing commission that involves Afghanistan, Pakistan, United States and NATO, ISAF. That military commission that meets regularly to discuss the issues was very impressed with the discussions we had.
And this is a (INAUDIBLE) and developing relationship. We were able to provide some information as to how we see things on our side of the border. And we received some very strong assurances that the Pakistani side of the border is interested in working at the tactical level, the operational level, and the strategic level to do the best we can to solve a very, very big problem that the minister...
KEMPE: Have you seen more than assurances? Have you seen action on the ground that would satisfy you that the intentions are changed?
JONES: Well some, and it's a big problem. And we are developing this relationship. We're putting the sinues (ph) together to hold to really work well. All ready at the tactical level you have tactical commanders exchanging communications. We are providing intelligence from our side to show where the flow points are from our side. And time will tell how it goes. But at the military level the initial relationship is encouraging.
Obviously there'll be discussions at the political level and this is good. This is an important part of the solution, because I think, Dr. Rasool is absolutely right. Don't look at Afghanistan as simply the only place where these problems will stay. This could be a regional problem in a short problem - if we're not successful in a short-term here.
KEMPE: Dr. Rasool finally, and then let's open up to the audience. If you're looking at the obstacles that you're up against, one of them obviously is the largest opium crop in the world. Somehow your government with NATO, with the world's help hasn't been able to get after this.
On the other hand you're talking about Pakistan and you actually put that ahead of drugs. Which of these is causing you the most difficulty? Or are they in some way connected?
RASOOL: I think as a long-term strategic threat the narcotics is a major threat. I think that is something that will fuel the (AUDIO GAP) extremism and terrorism for the reason that while you have not (AUDIO GAP) up to contra-narcotic issues (AUDIO GAP) before (AUDIO GAP) we have been extremely busy to do other things. We could (AUDIO GAP) we don't have any security forces.
Five years ago, we don't have any institutions (AUDIO GAP), we don't have anything, we just continue to (INAUDIBLE) with coalition forces. So now that (INAUDIBLE) (AUDIO GAP) slowly, at this time that we are attracting considerably (AUDIO GAP) to narcotics.
I will tell you something, that if you don't (INAUDIBLE) to make Afghanistan a legal country, we will fail a lot of things. We will fail about democratic process, about rule of law, about human rights and everything. So for us it is extremely important to get rid of Afghanistan off our back as soon as we can and that's our policy.
KEMPE: I wouldn't be fair if I don't ask you one final question before we go to the audience. And that really has to do with is the problem partly your government? Is it not just the international community with enough political will?
I quote, Louis Hughes, former Chief of Staff of the Afghan Reconstruction Group. From an interview a few days ago. Quote, " Of the 34 provincial governors, President Karzai and his Minister of Interior pointed, about one quarter were considered by impartial observers to be incompetent and hopelessly corrupt. When we press the President to replace them for the good of the country, he often just moved the pieces on the chess board, exchanging a (INAUDIBLE) for a corrupt governor in province B so on. (AUDIO GAP) damage Karzai's credibility with both the international community and his own people.
To address that and make charges that Karzai is awfully popular in London and Washington. And he really doesn't - isn't quite as popular in the south of Afghanistan.
RASOOL: Karzai is the only president there has been in the region. (INAUDIBLE). We don't have too much example of that anybody in this region has elected previously as their presidents.
So the fact that he has been elected by 54.5 percent does mean he has been the choice of that many people? Every President, any democratic country will go up and down according to the day's issues. So I do not believe that Karzai has been only the governor.
Probably because he has been an (INAUDIBLE). A process that has been controlled by United Nations and multinational community. We have had a very fair election in Afghanistan. And 54.5% of the Afghan people voted for him to the camp. The President of (INAUDIBLE).
...the power in each region. And we don't have any possibility to remove him. Neither military or politically. When we could invest the stability of Afghanistan at that very sensitive time of stopping another war inside of Afghanistan without army and of course the coalition forces were not prepared to do that kind of war while busy (INAUDIBLE) they're too busy to finish the war on terrorism.
Today, there is no doubt that the majority of the governors has been changed. We are following it with (INAUDIBLE) continental committee friends to see who's performing, who's not performing. And we can change it many times because we can.
There are many (INAUDIBLE) governors that are not performing well. We are watching them. And we can change them many times.
KEMPE: And I think to sum that up, clearly Afghanistan has come a very long way. But you're conceding there is still a difficulty in the government and its ability to get its will (ph) around the country. But you recognize that and you are working on it.
RASOOL: (INAUDIBLE) to rebuild the country.
KEMPE: Thank you very much. Thank you for your patience in the audience and we will start taking questions. Please...
KEMPE: and we'll start taking some questions. Please (AUDIO GAP). Identify yourself please.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: (INAUDIBLE), Latvian Transatlantic Organization. Mr. Rassoul, you made one point which struck me as so true, why are we here in Riga today? (AUDIO GAP) victorious Afghan freedom fighters in the 1980s, and I just want to applaud you for that first of all.
And that is basically what I wanted to say because I was born and raised in (AUDIO GAP) family (AUDIO GAP) dreaming of the Soviets one day pulling out of Afghanistan and me being able to live in a free Latvia and now, I'm a free Latvian. Thank you.
KEMPE: Yes, thank you for that intervention. I think that was a poignant moment, and I saw people in the audience shaking their head in recognition because I think it is obvious but not much thought of in the Alliance.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Yes we know (AUDIO GAP) Baltic states.
KEMPE: Please identify yourself.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: (INAUDIBLE) from Latvian (INAUDIBLE) International Affairs. If we now took the soldiers from Iraq and all the money that is going into Iraq and took them over to Afghanistan, would we solve the Afghanistan problem in one, two, three years and then have a great victory there?
Is this how we can (AUDIO GAP), because I think we should never have gone into Iraq (AUDIO GAP) you know? But I think we should have gone into Afghanistan. Now could be (AUDIO GAP) in two years, have all the troops you need. We could give all the help (AUDIO GAP) and farmers instead of growing poppy (AUDIO GAP) crops. (AUDIO GAP).
KEMPE: (AUDIO GAP) go back to the panel. So I beg the panel also to keep the answer brief. One more question.
CARLOS PASQUAL (ph): Carlos Pasqual (ph). I very much agree with what Foreign Minister MacKay said about (AUDIO GAP) for security (AUDIO GAP) development (AUDIO GAP) you do these together. The question I have for the Foreign Minister and to the General (AUDIO GAP), both sides (AUDIO GAP) security and (AUDIO GAP) are really (AUDIO GAP).
(AUDIO GAP) side, (AUDIO GAP) troop ratios from (AUDIO GAP) probably have (AUDIO GAP) troops. If you repeated the troop ratios from Kosovo it would be 400,000, from Bosnia, it would be about 250,000. Even if you assume that Afghan forces could staff half of that, the indication is that there is a radical gap on that side.
MACKAY: And on the reconstruction side, as you indicated (AUDIO GAP) poses the biggest challenge. And that is the weak underbelly of the country if you put it that way because of the ongoing insurgency, because of the doubt that it is creating not only in the minds of the Afghan people but in the overall mission's success.
And it comes back time and time again to identifying where the biggest challenge is and then addressing it head on. As to the length of time that we will be there, we will be there as long as this instability and this insurgency exists. I think the resource question is a legitimate one.
We have now 2,500 troops there. We have committed approximately $100 million of our aid package and that has gone up substantially in the past few years. But, Afghanistan, to be very blunt, is the incubator, the biggest incubator for terrorism in the world, the biggest threat to democracy, the biggest threat to all of our countries.
It came to North America on 9-11. We are not immune. And Canadians recognize that we have a broader obligation and we (AUDIO GAP) NATO through the United Nations and through missions such as this to head (AUDIO GAP) what is truly a global threat.
KEMPE: And Mr. MacKay, also Cristoph, you wrote the paper on this. Do you think enough is taking place in this Summit to address what Ambassador Pasqual (ph) is talking about?
CHRISTOPH: Let me make two remarks. One on (INAUDIBLE) rather intriguing question on Iraq and Afghanistan. (AUDIO GAP) on terrorism (AUDIO GAP) that had the United States not invaded Iraq and Iraq got invested (ph) in Afghanistan, the problem would have been much more manageable than it is now.
But that is crying over spilled milk. I mean we all know that going into Iraq was one of the fundamental mistakes with strategy and we have to live with that. But I do feel strongly with Carlos in one of the earlier remarks I just made going the same direction. There are reports that things are not getting better. There is a general sense, maybe true or not, that the kind of success stories that you are telling are really very relative, that things are slipping in terms of security.
Now in order to combat that impression, something like a new look at a comprehensive way of (AUDIO GAP) is necessary. Otherwise we are losing our public (AUDIO GAP) not just in my country but in many other countries. We really have to take that seriously.
KEMPE: General Jones, do you want (AUDIO GAP) Iraq (AUDIO GAP) Afghanistan?
JONES: Well, I am not going to suggest where they should come from but I think that while most commanders would like to have more assets, I do believe that Iraq, I am sorry, Afghanistan where it is now is more dependent on the things Dr. Rassoul was talking about...
JONES: ...was talking about (AUDIO GAP) for an immediate turn. But that really convinces the people of Afghanistan that there is, the government is reaching out and you can feel the presence. There is better governance. I think making sure that the governments are in fact not corrupt and are empowered and enabled with some (AUDIO GAP) assets to do something is a very, very important thing.
And that is the focus. I still would come back and say, I think the full implementation of the military requirement is important. There may be some times when we might want to go a little bit higher or lower. But the plan that is being lived under is the minimum military requirement. Can we use more? Of course we can always use more. But I don't think Afghanistan is slipping. I would say, I think the reason you get that (AUDIO GAP).
We have gone into the South. There has never been a permanent troop presence there in NATO and therefore there hasn't been much development. There (INAUDIBLE) been governance (AUDIO GAP), very, very important military (AUDIO GAP), and the level of violence (AUDIO GAP) at the onset of winter.
The aftermath of this operation did not (AUDIO GAP) the opposition back. We are seeing evidence of reconstruction. (AUDIO GAP). Where you have a good (AUDIO GAP), where you have the (AUDIO GAP), you have to gravitate towards doing the right thing. (INAUDIBLE) is an example for (AUDIO GAP). This is an area where poppy production was up (AUDIO GAP) years.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: (INAUDIBLE) is that there (AUDIO GAP) Afghanistan and Iraq to (AUDIO GAP). Situation need to (AUDIO GAP), I see (AUDIO GAP) Afghanistan and Iraq, which I think is wrong. And the reconstruction I agree with the Foreign Minister. It is our policy now to focus more in reconstruction. We have created a group called Policy Action Group in which key Afghan minister is sitting every week with key international and NATO chiefs.
And we are looking in these four provinces in the South about how we can make together the military operation combined with the reconstruction development project and we call it the (INAUDIBLE), when the military has cleaned the area immediately after reconstruction project going there.
KEMPE: Thank you. We have one question and I think one here and there. Great please.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: I am (INAUDIBLE), European Parliament. What political message do you expect from political leaders of Riga Summit and question is about what needs, what you need. More people? More money? More intelligence? More quantitative or more qualitative aspects (INAUDIBLE) armed forces. And maybe you need more Europe (INAUDIBLE) NATO in Afghanistan. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Let's actually pick that up. Does anyone else have a question regarding Europe and more Europe or European Union?
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Well (INAUDIBLE) system of fallacy (ph) (INAUDIBLE) related in Warsaw. Shouldn't we reveal it's a problem of financing the operation out of (INAUDIBLE) operation because this problem (INAUDIBLE) to have (INAUDIBLE) soldiers without (INAUDIBLE) from January 2007.
But this is a major problem or they are conflicts which would like to (AUDIO GAP) and also to (INAUDIBLE) which I went through suggests that they -- in our context situation is (AUDIO GAP) a source of instability. And with the consent, I will say according to those (AUDIO GAP) government. (AUDIO GAP).
I also heard from the Polish military that they (INAUDIBLE) NATO had (AUDIO GAP) addressed by people around Karzai by suggesting not to pressurize regional (AUDIO GAP) (INAUDIBLE) to liquidate the sources of income because they might go to the Taliban. (AUDIO GAP) even (INAUDIBLE).
In many areas, in many regional (AUDIO GAP) NATO is ruling by day and if not the Taliban then criminal elements are ruling by night, terrorizing (INAUDIBLE) support for NATO for reconstruction.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: And one more.
EDUARDS STIPRAIS, FORMER LATVIAN AMBASSADOR TO NATO AND LATVIA'S AMBASSADOR TO THE POLITICAL AND SECURITY COMMITTEE OF THE EUROPEAN UNION: Thanks very much. Eduards Stiprais, formally Latvian Ambassador to NATO and currently Latvia's Ambassador to the Political and Security Committee of the European Union.
It is right that ultimately and I think that we've heard this from the Secretary General also this morning that the solutions to stability and security in Afghanistan will ultimately be (AUDIO GAP) will not be a military one.
We had calls from the Secretary General for a greater U.N. and E.U. engagement in Afghanistan. He referred also this morning to the fact that there is a European Union mission that we'll be visiting in the next week or so to explore the way in which there could be more of an E.U. engagement in Afghanistan.
So essentially, my question would be to Mr. Bertram, in particular because in a few weeks time, Germany will be taking over the presidency of the European Union. It's also a question that I understand may be addressed with the high representative of the European Union who will be participating in the Summit these days vis-à-vis the greater U.N. (AUDIO GAP) Afghanistan.
Germany's already bilaterally engaged training (AUDIO GAP) likewise is engaged in rule of law justice issues. But will the German presidency use this opportunity to prioritize a greater E.U. and engagement in Afghanistan given that the calls that are being made for this at the moment. Thanks very much.
KEMPE: I have one more intervention (AUDIO GAP) on this but we'll make it quick and then we'll get to the panel. I think these are fascinating...
KEMPE: This and we will make it quick and then we will get to the panel. I think these are fascinating questions.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Thank you and (AUDIO GAP) from Afghanistan. My question is more with regard to the current or let's call it the past Medusa (ph) operation in the southern provinces especially in (INAUDIBLE). Because the reason for (AUDIO GAP) operation shows a great or a (INAUDIBLE) destruction of those communities, displacement of the local communities, casualties on both sides, the government, international community soldiers.
(AUDIO GAP) communities there. Of course the insurgents who have occupied the place were also defeated. (AUDIO GAP), because the side effect of that operation shows more (AUDIO GAP) that because of that displacement and casualties a great gap (AUDIO GAP) between the government and the local communities. (INAUDIBLE) Johnson, don't you think there (AUDIO GAP) strategy is required by these side effects and (AUDIO GAP).
And my second question is (AUDIO GAP) in Afghanistan and challenges (AUDIO GAP) agenda (AUDIO GAP) and understanding that most of the problem and challenges (AUDIO GAP) East provinces. So what is the (AUDIO GAP) role (AUDIO GAP) action to avoid that? Thank you.
KEMPE: We will come back to that at the end. I think let's start (AUDIO GAP). If there are any representatives of the European Union in the (AUDIO GAP), if you want to come back and answer this yourself you can as well Ambassador. (AUDIO GAP) you have spoken about the need for better cooperation, but what does one do?
Should one have (AUDIO GAP) after the (AUDIO GAP) of a NATO (AUDIO GAP) Summit? Does one have (AUDIO GAP) to bring them together? And is Afghanistan the point at which we have learned that it can't go on this way with NATO and the European Union any longer, so something needs to be fixed?
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Let me just deal with the first question by the representative to the Political Security (INAUDIBLE) of the European Union. When you say does the European Union not do anything, you have to differentiate between the member states of the European Union who bilateral, unilateral contribute significantly to Afghanistan and (AUDIO GAP).
Can't the European Union do something? It really, if I understand correctly, refers to the resource, whether the Commission can (AUDIO GAP). That is about right isn't it? So there is a lot that has been done by (AUDIO GAP), but not yet fully done by the European Commission and the kind of (AUDIO GAP) the Secretary General of NATO has been talking about, the Commission going to Afghanistan (AUDIO GAP).
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Will the German Presidency make much of a difference? I am the only one (AUDIO GAP) anyway representative of the government. I really don't know. I think they have so many other things on their plate, I don't think it is going to be a top priority. (INAUDIBLE) maybe get the message that comes from the NATO Summit tomorrow will actually urge some action in this direction.
On the other point that you raised, I think indeed, I have always felt that this whole discussion about NATO EU relations, which has been the (AUDIO GAP) for the last ten years has really been a red herring. The real question is what extent the EU will be taken in to NATO's thinking about what it wants to do. Precisely because you need these two elements together.
And NATO, so far has not been very forth-coming in this and the European Union has also been trying to, sort of, be very precious about this. but basically I think the agreement is there. And this is a common problem and one has to use the assets that are available in order to serve them. But much more, much more involvement of NATO in long-term planning and long-term strategic thinking is not (AUDIO GAP) into the African union.
(AUDIO GAP) the military level with over 20 nations to be (AUDIO GAP) we know how to do this. And so it's a question of finding the political, receiving the political guidance to make this happen. In Afghanistan, clearly there are (INAUDIBLE) that could be realized very quickly, I think, with some, parameters under which we could work together.
One that comes easiest to my mind is (INAUDIBLE). (INAUDIBLE) the EU has enormous capacity for training police and all of the experience in the world. This is just an example of how better cohesion not only with EU-NATO but other organizations can rapidly materialize the (INAUDIBLE) on the ground and I would certainly look at that.
I wonder if Dr. Eusul (ph) would like to deal with the question of operation (INAUDIBLE) and the internal situation.
EUSUL (ph): (INAUDIBLE) about (AUDIO GAP) that the civil government are helping the (INAUDIBLE) or completely wrong (INAUDIBLE) mention to you (AUDIO GAP) it is a vital issue for us to get Afghanistan off the narcotics. And that's very clear, I think for anybody who wants to build a country.
We are fighting against narcotics (AUDIO GAP) and drug traffickers (AUDIO GAP) I told you that our court institution was not capable to do it. Now we have a special court to judge the drug traffickers. We have a (INAUDIBLE) narcotic forces that can go. And we have a plan you can see in the coming months, (INAUDIBLE)...
...that can go (AUDIO GAP) within coming months (AUDIO GAP). I think is important but not very accurate. In (INAUDIBLE) nobody (AUDIO GAP), is very (AUDIO GAP). But you know the (INAUDIBLE) of Taliban (AUDIO GAP), going to the villages, taking (AUDIO GAP) in the houses, especially in night missions.
(AUDIO GAP) the family of those (AUDIO GAP). (AUDIO GAP) we are ready (AUDIBLE). I was in that (AUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Sir, if I might. (AUDIO GAP). (AUDIBLE), questions about reform, inclusion and expansion (AUDIO GAP). I think on the subject of (AUDIO GAP), more is more for more resources, more commitment (AUDIO GAP) they should leave the area because we see conflict coming.
A lot of people did in fact leave the area. And so we actually saved some lives there. Second, all collateral damage and accidental civilian deaths are to be regretted. But what also happened after that is we very quickly went in and presented our apologies, our condolences and reconstruction and aid to the families of the displaced people who were coming back in the area.
And this is something that has to happen. We will always try to minimize civilian casualties but it is not a perfect science. We will continue to try to get to that point. But, we are not reckless in what we are doing. And I do not agree with the fact that we have made more enemies than we have friends. The statistics for post-Medusa operations simply don't support that analysis.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Thank you. (INAUDIBLE). I think I just mentioned that there are 300 Danish troops in (INAUDIBLE) as well as (INAUDIBLE) some contribution. For a small country, I just think that (INAUDIBLE) that you mention. And my question goes I guess to all members of the panel. And it grows out of the past five months that I spent as kind of an embedded researcher with these things contingents.
Now, it is our experience as we mentioned more times that really need to get the reconstruction going quickly if you want to move towards in state (ph). And our experience has been that it is not so much a question of getting the resources in terms of the money, the reconstruction funds there. It is more a problem of getting civilian experts to operate there on the ground.
And there are some areas like the (INAUDIBLE) area, parts of Afghanistan where you simply can't get the NGOs, the civilian experts to operate. And the way we have been trying to work around this is to make the soldiers facilitate, not do, but facilitate reconstruction. It is called the Concert of Planning and Action Initiatives.
But my question is, what can a Danish battalion do if the, let's say the British Brigade doesn't play the same game? What can a small Danish contingent do if the let's say German PRT does not play the same game? Now maybe having soldiers facilitate reconstruction is not a good idea. But then my question is are there good ideas as to how to solve this problem? The civilian experts are not there. The only ones there on the ground are the soldiers.
KEMPE: We are running out of time, so I see two more questions and let's make them both 30 seconds and no longer please.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: (INAUDIBLE), Youth Forum. My question would be to General Jones. As NATO is...
KEMPE: ...30 seconds and no longer please.
ADUL BAGERA (ph): Adul Bagera (ph) I represent Azerbaijan at the Youth Forum. My question would be to General Jones, as NATO is expanding more and more into the Muslim world, would it help to add more than one NATO member which is Muslim such as Turkey.
In this case I'm talking specifically about my native Azerbaijan as well as countries like Kazakhstan. I remember your testimony at the Senate Armed Services Committee last year, I think it was in March or May of last year, where you did indicate how important the Caspian area is both for energy security and in terms of Afghanistan and providing more troops and et cetera, et cetera.
So it would be interesting to hear some more thoughts, thank you.
MICHAEL BURKE: Michael Burke, (INAUDIBLE), I have a question that could probably be divided into two parts and it's related to, we mentioned Pakistan as one of the regional players, but I wonder what the panelists think about other regional players who should be involved in our efforts in Afghanistan like China, Russia, Central Asia, Iran.
My second part is directed to Minister MacKay. And that is given our series involvement in Afghanistan, we are seriously also underrepresented in Central Asia in terms of resources and other things. What would your preference be to deal with this through NATO or on a bilateral basis?
KEMPEK: I'm going to give you each one minute, I'm sorry that's all we have at this point. But let me go in reverse order of how we started. And as you answer these last three questions, which ever was addressed to you, also deal with if you want, in, you know, 20 seconds of your one minute, is there anything happening at this Summit that corrects any of these problems that we have been talking about that need to be addressed? Please. Dr. Russell.
DR. RUSSELL: I think (INAUDIBLE) and regionally there's no doubt that the full cooperation when I talk in region is not only Pakistan is Iran, Central Asia, China, India, Russian Federation.
I think it's very important that all the region incorporate that because the threat of narcotics and terrorism is the same for everybody. So Afghanistan is secure and then safe Afghanistan, democratic Afghanistan, we believe is in the benefit of the region.
To finish, I just want to, 20 seconds is left, I would like just to thanks all those countries that are helping us to build a democratic society, a free Afghanistan and I'm quite optimistic that despite all this articles in newspaper and things we will win and it's all (INAUDIBLE).
KEMPEK: I also want to add on your behalf a quick conversation we had before, and this is partly in answer to your question, you were saying that you liked this big Brzezinski's idea of a new participant group for NATO and that Afghanistan would be first on the list.
DR. RUSSELL: Yes, where would we find a partnership in a sort of (INAUDIBLE) with NATO with lot of (INAUDIBLE), but we find it. Afghanistan wants to play one day a role in the international community and pay back what the international has already given us now.
CHRISTOPH: I think Brzezinski's idea is a bad one, but you can read my paper to find out more about it. And I do think that the Riga Summit will concentrate minds on Afghanistan and from what we've heard today that's an important one.
KEMPEK: I would acknowledge immediately the contribution of the Dutch and suggest that there are other countries...
CHRISTOFF (ph): Danes.
KEMPEK: Danes and the Dutch and...
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: And anybody else I have forgotten.
KEMPEK: I'm sorry we're off (INAUDIBLE) and I would also suggest that there, you know, there are other countries, of course, that this may be a vehicle or a bridge to Tunnato. I'm thinking of Croatia, I'm thinking of Ukraine and tangible contributions of equipment and training that other larger countries may be able to help facilitate that contribution.
If Afghanistan is the limit test that has been described for NATO, I would suggest that without the success it's going to be an acid test that will mark all of us. Not to be ominous or foreboding but this is, this really is the challenge. And perhaps I'll speak with my Canadian friend later about China. But certainly bilateral improvements have to be this government's focus.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: And Iran?
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: (INAUDIBLE).
JONES: I think that we absolutely have to solve the problems of adequacy of people. And make sure that the right professionals are out there. I think the provincial reconstruction teams in which Turkey's taking on a PRT in the foreseeable future with number 25, I think those are important, visible, tangible evidence of international commitment.
And around those PRTs are some of which are military led, some are civilian led. But all are financed by different governments. You have an instrument there of collective will. And I would suggest that if any nation would like to make a contribution within means and capabilities, taking on a provincial reconstruction team and doing it well is extremely important in Afghanistan. There are many solutions on how you can do that, but I think that's a very good one.
As far as the membership of nations, of course. Any nation that wishes to participate, I think it would be great to have more Islamic nations involved in the region. And I also think that I would like to simply close by saying that I think strategic messaging is very important here. I believe that, to the outside world we don't talk about all of Afghanistan. We talk too much about what's going on in relatively important area, but not the whole of Afghanistan.
We've got to start talking about the whole of Afghanistan. Inside of Afghanistan, we need to figure our ways to get better strategic messaging from Kabul out to the people so that they understand what's going on within the totality with their country and not just within the limit of a radio transistor where they just happen to be. Because that's not the whole story.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Thank you, and General Jones, also I think on behalf of the audience I'd also like to thank you for your remarkable service in theatre.
JONES: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Can I ask you what you're going to be doing next?
JONES: Well, I have a short-term plan and I have a long-term plan. My short-term plan is to be home with my family for Christmas. And my long-term plan is to be in the Caribbean by New Year's.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Thank you. Thank you Fred. And thank the panelists. We now have to get on buses to go over and see the President of the United States, hear him speak. Hold on, I've got instructions here. If you are a young leader, you go to bus number one, and this is something (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Questions for this press conference will be asked through this microphone. The (INAUDIBLE) is recorded on the (INAUDIBLE). (INAUDIBLE) file also (INAUDIBLE)...
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: (AUDIO GAP)...lifting caveats. And you mentioned the trends, the positive trends of a 1 to 15 percent reduction of those 50 key caveats that you've targeted, which was the equivalent of about 2,000 troops.
Now does this mean that as a result of these caveats which have newly been lifted, 2,000 troops will now be free to travel to go to be deployed anywhere in Afghanistan that weren't able to do so before? And when can we expect to see some fruits of that actually on the ground?
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: It does mean that when we are able to lift restrictions on the 50 most impactive caveats, that the commander has more flexibility in what he can do with them. Whether that translates immediately into troop movements or not, we'll just have to wait and see. The situation will dictate it.
But it is a movement in the positive direction that's encouraging. And as I mentioned, the way we got there was we asked every nation to resubmit what their - to redefine and resubmit what their restrictions were. And this has yielded a positive move in the right direction.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: So the ones that have been lifted to equate to 2,000 troops?
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: You know, it's hard to be precise, because some of them, for example, some of the national restrictions apply to forces that are committed unto, let's say, civil affairs, let's say reconstruction, and are already busy where they are and you may not want to take those forces and move them.
But what it does say is in a moment of need, if there is a particular military mission that needs to be done, and let me underscore that it doesn't always have to be about fighting, it can be about, as we're seeing in the Northwest portion, a humanitarian mission where we had to coalesce willing nations very quickly to go to save lives.
Any delay of a Commander who says I am sorry, I have a restriction that says I cannot leave my geographical assigned area, but I have to go back to my capital and they have to get a parliamentary vote in a flood means more people die. So, that is what we are getting after and I think we are seeing some positive results going into this Summit and I am excited by that.
DAVID HOLLEY, LOS ANGELES TIMES: David Holley with the Los Angeles Times. I have a question for Dr. Rasool and perhaps for General Jones if you would like to add. One of the questioners today mentioned that he thought there were some areas where the Taliban guerillas control it by night and NATO controls it by day.
And I would like to ask in broader terms, how would you briefly describe the problems in the military sense now? In which parts of Afghanistan are the Taliban strongest and what sort of tactical advantages, what makes them strong in those areas?
RASOOL: As I mentioned before, there is only four provinces that we have had a lot of problems, security problems in this last six months. Now today, I think these four provinces after the Operation Medusa and (INAUDIBLE) is becoming a much safer place and the (INAUDIBLE), which has been a very unsafe a year ago now is becoming much more safe.
We have some problem in Zabol area, which are looking to that because there is a lack of police forces there. I think the main issue is in Helmund because of the combination of drug traffickers, (INAUDIBLE) division and also a lack of, in the past a lack of (INAUDIBLE) government in these district.
I think this area that we are talking about, it is mainly in Helmund province and some area maybe in (INAUDIBLE) but not any more. In Helmund, as you know, the British forces are engaged and I believe that within a couple of weeks you will see with the coming of the winter a much more important reach of the government. We are preparing ourself during this winter; there is usually a lull in the fighting, to be well-prepared for the coming summer.
JONES: I just simply like to again say that I think it is a mistake, an enormous mistake to think that the Taliban is the only problem that we deal with. It is not the only source of violence. I don't believe this is an enemy that will defeat NATO militarily and I think it is a mistake to suggest that the only problem is that we are tackling the Taliban.
It is the problem in certain areas. It is not the problem in the overall nation. So, I think we should be careful about kind of grouping the totality of the problem under the heading Taliban. It gives them underserved recognition and capability that they don't have.
HOLLEY: But when you are speaking of fighters against NATO it is the Taliban, is that right?
JONES: Well no. I don't think so. I think it is criminal elements. I think it is the narcotic cartels. I think it is sometimes it is tribe-on-tribe. Sometimes it is just people who have weapons and don't have much hope for the time being. But it is not simply just the Taliban. No.
It is the Taliban in some of the areas that Dr. Rasool was talking about. But if you were standing in Konar right now, we would not be having this discussion. That is not the principal preoccupation of that part of the country. So, I just think it is important that we don't overstate what the opposition is capable of doing...
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: I just think it's important that we don't overstate what the opposition is capable of doing. Because I think it complicates the public understanding of the complexity of the reconstruction of Afghanistan. So, I don't know what the correct term is, I use the term "other opposing military forces" or "violent purveyors of violent activity."
That's not as sexy as a name like the Taliban, but there I think, we should be careful that we don't overstate this militarily unconventional challenge. We will not be defeated militarily by the Taliban and what they're fighting is a war of attrition. They thought they could stand up in Medusa and take us on conventionally and they paid a big price for that mistake. I don't think you'll see that again in the near future.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: So, the first part of your question was also referring to these other armed groups, right. Not...
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Yes, absolutely, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Last question.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: If I could just follow up on that because I think it's an important point. What is important when you link all of these together is that what we're seeing because of the profitability of the narcotics trade, we're seeing the economic support to people like the Taliban and other armed groups. That is going from the narcotics cartels to try to resist the influence of the government to prosecute a successful campaign against that very profitable business.
And that's why in the auditorium, just a few minutes ago, I suggested that the biggest cancer is not the Taliban or other groups like that, but it's the engine that fuels those operations and the narcotics business is one of them.
BESCOMILEE (ph) SPACE: My question is (INAUDIBLE) from (INAUDIBLE). What do you think Mr. (INAUDIBLE) mentioned last Friday, saying that it could be, kind of, basic or minimum agreement during the summit. And the fact, as you said, you know, that some troops could be sent in emergency out of their Northern or Western region originally based, from a (INAUDIBLE) it's an emergency situation.
The question is what is the emergency situation? And in what sense is it vary depends on what is NATO, that is to say you have all (INAUDIBLE) national authorities saying yes or no, whatever. And on the (INAUDIBLE) side, do you consider that it is enough of a statement to convince your (INAUDIBLE) opinions that the Canadian soldiers are not lost and fighting alone, or do you think that more should be done?
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Sir.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Well, I think the lifting of caveats in any restrictions is progress. And I very much agree with General Jones' assessment, that this is an overall mission. That sometimes it does a bit of a disservice to the public to try to simply break this up into small pieces. It's going to take an all-of-NATO approach, just as we've deemed it an-all-of-government approach in Canada.
And by that, I mean the reconstruction, the winning of the hearts and minds of the Afghan people under the umbrella of a secure environment. Under the umbrella that's provided by the military action, if you will. So, to that extent, having greater flexibility and greater mobility of some of the existing troops, plus what we're hoping is the commitment of further troops that are not currently on the ground in Afghanistan.
More boots on the ground, I think, is going to help that vulnerable region of the country and (INAUDIBLE) in the South. I think the issue of the border is also going to require greater concentration overall by the NATO force and our allies.
So yes, I believe that there is progress being made and I believe that the lifting of caveats is indicative of that.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: On the question of in extremis of relief proposed by the Secretary General, I think it's a very good idea and I support it. You know, fundamentally, there's a question here of if, you know, if country A will not come to aid of country B when country A's soldiers are dying, why should country A expect country B to come to its aid.
So it's really a fundamental issue and nations will have to deal with it as best they can. There are a lot of things that play there. But, I would like to simply say that just based on our experience in Kosovo, that I think that as countries come to fuller understanding of the real situation in Afghanistan, that you will see a continuing positive trend to diminish the national restrictions, because it flies in the face of the speed with which we can accomplish our mission.
Zero caveats is probably not in the cards, it's not in the cards in Kosovo, but the ones that inhibit the commander's ability to maneuver his force at a time when he needs to are the ones that we're going after. And hopefully we will see some progress there.
If not, it gets more expensive, because it means we have to find nations who are willing to send more troops to do the jobs that have to be done and it becomes more costly and less efficient.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: OK. Thank you very much. For those going with us on the bus we're going downstairs to do so. And thank you gentlemen...