NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

09 Dec. 2009

Press briefing

by NATO Spokesman James Appathurai and ISAF Spokesman Brigadier General Eric Tremblay

JAMES APPATHURAI: Colleagues and friends, thank you for coming. I will try to be brief, not least because we have the privilege of Brig. Gen. Tremblay who will also speak on the situation in Afghanistan as he did for you last week. So I want to just address three quick issues and then hand the floor to the General. First thing, Force Generation. Let me update you on the conclusions of the Force Generation Conference. The Deputy Supreme Allied Commander General John McColl came to the NAC and briefed this morning on the conclusions of the Force Generation Conference. Let me summarize them. In general, the Force Generation Conference that was held on Monday, surpassed our expectations. It was a strong demonstration of commitment and solidarity by the allies and partners and, if I may say, the result of intensive engagement by the Secretary General, by the Supreme Allied Commander and the Deputy Supreme Allied Commander at the political level and at the top military levels. The results were that the non-U.S. members of ISAF pledged, let me put this away, non-U.S. members of ISAF pledged about 36,800 forces, sorry, let me start again! Let me start again. The United States pledged, you know, 30,000 new forces. Non-U.S. members of ISAF pledged about 6,800. This is in addition to the baseline of permanent forces on the ground with ISAF, in other words excluding any forces deployed temporarily for the elections that were to be then withdrawn and were held over or replaced in the country. This comes on top of 31,000 additional permanent contributions that were brought in from November 2008 to November 2009. So to recapitulate, ISAF added 31,000 forces from November 2008 to November 2009. The 36,800 or so in addition is what was pledged at the Force Generation Conference. The training mission is of course the keystone or a keystone for transition. And transition is what you will see beginning next year. What we can see already is, I have to say, quite substantial success in filling the requirements of the training mission. The training missing got initial operational capability in September. It has been three months and as of today, three months later, over 340 police mentoring teams, operational mentoring and liaison teams have been pledged to the training mission and over 150 operational mentoring and liaison teams. We will still need more next year. Over 30 police mentoring and liaison teams and over 20 army mentoring and liaison teams will be necessary next year. But we have had a very substantial set of contributions for the NTMA. Still a lot of work to do, but it has been… it has been quite a good Force Generation Conference for that as well.

Two other issues and then I will turn the floor over to General Tremblay. One to mention also in the NAC that the Secretary-General offered his condolences through the ambassador to Turkey, for the loss of seven soldiers and the injury of several others fallowing the attack earlier this week on a Turkish military unit in Tokat province.

And finally, an agenda issue, the Secretary-General next week will leave for Copenhagen and then for Moscow. He will go to Copenhagen to participate in the climate change proceedings. He will participate in a panel, high-level panel on climate change and international security. That's around 1:30 on Tuesday. And then leave straight for Moscow. He will spend two days in Moscow and will meet with President Medvedev. And possibly, I think, Prime Minister Putin, Foreign Minister Lavrov. He will give a speech at the Moscow State Institute of Foreign Affairs, MGIMO, as it is called, meet with the chairman of the Federation of Council, Mr. Mironov, as well as the chairman of the Lower House, the Duma, Mr. Gryzlov, meet with the Minister of Defence, and I think for the moment, it is planned for him to meet with the Secretary of the Security Council, Mr. Patrushev. The press conference timing is still being moved around. So we will put out a proper media advisory when we have all the details confirmed. But that's the way it looks right about now.

That's all I had to say and I would like to turn the floor over to Eric.

ERIC TREMBLAY: O.K. ladies and gentlemen, it's a pleasure to be here. I have a couple of slides and then, as mentioned by James, we will take questions from there. That's the model that we use in Afghanistan with our stakeholders to explain the complexity, and I know it looks a bit like a spaghetti slide there. But there's methods to the madness here. And what we're really trying to do when you're looking at the Afghanistan problem is you're very much aware that there's the alliance with the capacity that is being provided with the forces. Then you have the Afghan National Security Forces in terms of capacity. Then you have the ability of the central government, but also the local governments to deliver services, government provided also security for the population on the ground to shape, but to provide them services to…so that when see, they look at Afghanistan, they look at the local chief of police, they look at the governor of the district, governor of the province, that they do perceive that there's value added and what is being done at the national level translates into added value at the local level. And that obviously generates popular support if this is done right, both from a security perspective, but also governance and development, both from the international community but also the government. And then on the other hand, you have the other malign influences including the enemies of Afghanistan, the terrorists and the ones who are providing external support to those terrorist movements. And then you get the narco-traffickers and an axis with terrorism. So as we are military forces and trying with our stakeholders to shape the situation, that's how we're looking at the model and key to the model is what people understand and what people… what are the Afghans' perception of the conflict. So by building the Afghan National Security Forces, by having enough international forces to grow the Afghan National Security Forces, to increase their effectiveness trough partnership, while at the same time, ISAF, NATO providing the support to governance and development to insure that that crisis and confidence at the local level, where the Afghans are not too sure who they need to turn to if they want proper justice, if they want proper irrigation, if they want all those services in order to ensure for themselves that they survive another day, but also to bring prosperity to their children. So the model makes sense when you're looking at it. And there's things in the model in which you can quickly do and there's some others that you really need a series of movements in order to deliver something much bigger. You can appreciate that building the Afghan National Security Forces, which is the centre or mass of what we're trying to do in Afghanistan is key and leading us to achieve success there, we need it to build that infrastructure, but also the required trainers, but very much also the strategy of partnership on the ground where you can really increase rapidly the effectiveness because you're partnering with the Afghans.

That's the commander's assessment when it comes to the various districts that we have in Afghanistan and it's very much a mosaic and it's also a living mosaic in terms of change. But when you do the assessment and with the stakeholders and you're trying to figure out, you know, where you are, and what what is the perception of the population and the ability of the insurgents to gain support or to deny the ability of the Afghan National Security Forces and the international troop to conduct security. That's the current assessment. To give you an idea here in terms of locations, you have Kandahar, Lashkar Gah, that's Nimruz province here, Shindand in the Herat province, Herat, Mazari Sharif, Kunduz, Bagram, Kabul, Jalalabad and Ghazni. So it kind of gives you an idea of the different zones. And if you're following the colour scheme here, there are some areas that we're yet to have a right idea of really what are the conditions in those districts. There's some, quite clearly, and you can mirror when we say that in some areas, there's the support to the insurgents and that's normally where we have a lot of incidents occurring and the colour red is certainly an indication where we get most of those incidents on a daily basis. And then, adjacent to that colour red, you can see that this is where we have that melting, if you want, of a certain level of support to the insurgents, but not necessarily total support for the insurgency. And then we move much more into the neutral where the difference will be in providing those alternatives so that the Afghans can decide by themselves of what it is that they really want to do. And the better those alternatives in terms of services and, you know, I could list it here, including governance, but also future because development is there, easier it will be to shift those perceptions but also the realities of the Afghans to support the government of Afghanistan.

But one thing that this slide is also telling you is that the support for the government is also there in some areas and in some others, it's very sympathetic actually to the government of Afghanistan. But the key to this is really those districts who are still neutral in order to move them along in the right direction in order to support he government of Afghanistan.

So it should not be of any surprise to anybody when we say that the situation is serious and that the insurgents in some areas had the momentum. So clearly, what needs to be done is, as General McChrystal mentioned repeatedly is to gain the initiative and to reverse that momentum at the local level. As he mentioned during the testimonies, there's no silver bullets, but there's a series of initiatives that it's a bit like the sum of all parts can really bring that force multipliers in terms of applying enough change, but enough resources on the ground or enough governance or enough development to make a difference and to see a shift between Afghans who are neutral to Afghans who further support the government because they're informed of what can be done or they're informed on the ability of the government, but also on the initiative that the government and the international community want to bring forward in order to provide alternatives. But at the end, what we really need to build those up is security. So as part of security, we've said all along that we needed additional forces so that we can build a much more effective Afghan National Security Forces but also further shape, clear, hold and build some of those districts or key population centres or key approaches or key community and villages or key areas where some of those development projects are providing support to the overall population. So we needed additional forces to do that and we certainly welcome the decision both by NATO and the U.S. administration.

Some dates that General McChrystal has mentioned during the testimony and in fact, the next summer, in terms of providing evidence of progress has been quite clear over the last few months. He did mention during the testimony also that by next December, you know, a requirement to lay down the progress and to lay down that progress and inform is part of a continuous assessment of the situation on the ground, both from a security, governance and development aspect. And finally, by summer 2011, is to demonstrate progress to the Afghan people. General McChrystal yesterday at the testimony did mention, and I'll conclude on those… on those last points, but the perception of the Afghans is clear on the way they see the government, on the way they look at the Afghan National Security Forces. So in a nutshell, if he can turn the momentum in the eyes of the Afghans, if he can turn the momentum in the mind of the insurgents and there's certainly some early indications of the fact that we've conducted shape, clear or build and we're there to stay and that they see the government of Afghanistan delivering at the local level, is certainly a source of concern for the insurgents and they're certainly trying to neutralize those successes. So additional forces and the improvement in the effectiveness of the Afghan National Security Forces in providing that security bubble in order to maintain those successes alive will certainly be a game changer. And finally, turning the momentum on the ground, because you are where it really counts, close to the population centres. Thank you.

JOURNALIST 1: James, (inaudible) from German Television. Can you give us an idea how these 6,800 are put together? Maybe you can mention the main figures of the nations that contribute to… And let me allow a second question, James, the Secretary General, Mr. Rasmussen, always says it's a period of transition and it's not an exit strategy at the moment. When can we expect this exit strategy? Will there be one after or during the conference in London at the 28th of January? Is that a possibility?

JAMES APPATHURAI: I don't know how to turn this microphone on. Ah ha, there we go. To answer your first question, which is the question on everyone's mind, no, I cannot break down for you by nation what each contributed. I can tell you that 36 countries, NATO and non-NATO, made offers, made pledges of additional contributions, broken down in various ranges of figure and capabilities. But one of the points that General McColl, the Deputy Supreme Allied Commander who is responsible for Force Generation made very clearly and repeatedly during the NAC, it's not about numbers, it's about capabilities. In others words, 15 soldiers doesn't sound like much, but if they are an operational mentoring and liaison team, they have a disproportionate effect and need an urgent requirement. So if a country came up with, let us say ten OMLTs or police OMLTs, that's something we need and it matters and it's hard to provide that capability. So I know numbers are easy to quantify and they matter because it's the number of actual human people going over to do the job. It's capabilities that matter and we've done very well on the capabilities front but we still need others and the training area is one where will have to keep pushing.

You will never see NATO set out an exit strategy. That is not what we do. Eventually this mission has to end. That is clear. No one wants it to continue ad infinitum, neither the Afghans nor us. But what we need now is to set a transition strategy which will allow the Afghans to take the lead. At a certain stage, that will require less and less and less in the way of international forces. But we are not setting end dates. We are setting end states. The end state is clear. When the Afghans are capable of providing for their own security, our mission will be finished. That's the only strategy we will provide to exit.

JOURNALIST 2: Two questions. First on the chart that was on page two of your slideshow. What percentage of the population lives in the green areas that are sympathetic to the government and what percentage in the red of orange areas that are either anti or leaning to the insurgents? And then another question about ISAF. McChrystal also said yesterday that additional countries will be joining ISAF, quote, fairly soon. What can you tell us about which countries, what they'll bring to the table and were any of them amongst the 36 that made offers this week?

ERIC TREMBLAY: I'm not going to go into specifics but I'll try to answer your question. You're well aware that in Afghanistan, there's a ring road that goes from… it circles Afghanistan through effectively most of the key stars that you see there throughout Afghanistan. And I realize that some portions are still under construction. But for the most part, there's a ring road that kind of links up all those key cities across Afghanistan and there's also a road in the middle here that joins Iraq to Kabul. If you are going to add from the key cities and the key villages, communities that are part of those corridors, it would be about 60, 70 percent of all the Afghans. So what we're really trying to do here is to help the Afghan National Security Forces to secure those corridors by 2014 and that is our main priority. It doesn't mean that our secondary priorities were not also enabling the Afghan National Security Forces, but the Afghan government through other initiatives such as community defence initiatives in the remote areas in order for the local Afghans and those communities in remote areas to organize themselves so that you have those antennas of security in remote areas who are linked up with the Afghan National Security Forces and who are able to be the early warning, if you want, in case there would be major attacks by the insurgents in those area.

JAMES APPATHURAI: To address the second question. Yes, there are countries that are close to joining the ISAF mission that have not yet done so but I cannot name them. Second DSACEUR has indications of existing members of the ISAF mission that have not yet been in a position to make offers to increase their contribution, who could, in the coming period, be in a position to offer more. So you will see the mission, I think, there's a good chance that this mission will grow both in terms of the numbers of countries contributing to it and grow even further in terms of the total force levels and the capabilities on the ground.

JOURNALIST 3: James, when you said that since last September, there is 300 operational mentoring teams on the ground beside 150 liaisons, are they already in place or is it part of it that is in place? And you talked about 30 more for police, 20 more for army. So exactly, I'm lost with the figure a little bit. And my… and if I may, I have a second question. For having such a map, the second one, how did you make it? By an opinion poll or by the number of attacks?

JAMES APPATHURAI: To answer the first question, over 300 police mentoring liaison teams have been pledged. A number of them are already there. But I can't break it down for you because I don't know. The same is true with the army. And yes, over 30 and 20… over 30 police mentoring liaison team will be necessary in addition next year and the same is true of army liaison and training teams.

ERIC TREMBLAY: To answer your second question, as mentioned, described on the slide here, it's based on the assessment of commander ISAF with the stakeholders at… the superior stakeholders at the local level. So it's an assessment, if you want, of how the perceptions of the commanders on the ground are. And if you corroborate that also with the key incidents who are occurring on a daily basis, there's a straight correlation in between some of those red areas and the number of incidents who are carried on a daily, weekly basis.

JAMES APPATHURAI: With pointing out that we have 70,000 or so people all over Afghanistan, by the way, engaged with, partner with the Afghans, they have pretty good base, I think, to make an assessment like that.

JOURNALIST 4: El Pais. General, a question for you, precisely with this chart and more or less the same thing that was posted to you before. You almost kind of replied.

JAMES APPATHURAI: Almost kind of.

JOURNALIST 4: Almost, because if we follow the… we see the charter and the colours, we see that in the northern part of the country, it's almost paradise. So support, orange, people are supporting, sympathetic, red, people supporting, and the worst of the case is neutral. But we have… we had Spanish soldiers killed in the west, plenty of German soldiers killed in the north, plenty of civilians killed in the north as well. The German Government having trouble with the situation in the north. So there is no apparent correlation between the chart that is wonderful and the reality that is not so bright. And for James, please, another question, are we close, I mean, the West, our community, close to achieving the level of soldiers that General McChrystal was asking? Because if the non-American side of the operation is almost 7,000, we're already close to the 10,000 in theory should be making the (inaudible) and if there are some other countries on cuing to offer the best and brightest. So, thank you.

ERIC TREMBLAY: I'm just going to take it with… the aim of that slide was not to paint a rosy picture. My opening statement, I've said that the situation was serious and some areas are deteriorating. And clearly, the escalation of violence between 2007 and '09 has increased 200 percent and from '08 to '09 by 60 percent. But if you're looking at the slide, it doesn't mean, because it is neutral, that the insurgents did not have the ability…

JOURNALIST 4: (Inaudible)

ERIC TREMBLAY: They… it's asymmetrical. So it's not like the insurgents are holding ground. And when they hold ground, they pay the price for this. There's attacks. So they're not trying to do this because there's certainly not in numbers and in capacities to face NATO and its partners. But at the end, most of the violence is through roadside bombs or improvised explosive devices. Most of those bombs are homemade on top. So we're attacking the networks who are creating those roadside bombs, both the financiers, but also very much the ones who ae delivering, for example, the compounds of those bombs. And one of the main compounds is ammonium nitrate, who is also a fertilizer in use in Afghanistan. It was banned in 1965. There's now a review of a law currently in Afghanistan to try to address the issues and also communicate this to the Afghans, that that substance is banned. So we're trying any way we can to neutralize those networks in order to increase protection for the Afghans. Because at the end, the ones who are paying the price other than NATO and ISAF, are also the population and the Afghan National Security Forces. And when you look at it from collateral damages, the civilian casualties caused by the insurgents using roadside bombs is very high, and higher in 2009 up to now than it was in 2008. So the aim of this slide is to paint that in some areas, 65 percent, for example, of all the incidents are in the south and in the east. But it doesn't mean that there's no incidence in the north and in the west. But it kind of gives you an idea in terms of the perception of commanders of what the security is on the ground based on facts. And this is what we've come up with.

JAMES APPATHURAI: It's important, what Eric has said, but let me build on it as well. The fact that there are… that there are attacks in any area doesn't mean that the population supports the Taliban. These are two separate things. And they can attack all they want, but it doesn't mean the people there are supporting them. It doesn't mean they don't but it doesn't mean they do. There's crime all over this town, but it doesn't mean the population supports the criminals and this is the same thing in my own city or anywhere else. I was thinking about Belgium. If you look at successive Asia Foundation polls, 70 percent of the Afghan population supports international forces and five percent would like to see the Taliban back. You can count how you want, but that's not a big number, and it doesn't mean that because there's an attack, and if I can build on that. One of the things… one of the logics by Taliban or other insurgents of these attacks is to give the impression of popular rejection throughout the country of the government and of international forces, and to make people outside the country think that they're rejecting all of this throughout the country. And it's not the case. It very much has a propaganda aim as much as anything else. And we shouldn't fall into it. In terms of reaching the levels necessary, I consulted with our military authorities today. Their answer was in general, in general and with some small exceptions, when these pledges are in place, the combat forces that have been requested will be in theatre. In other words, the requirement for combat forces will generally be met. Couple of exceptions, let me stress again, but in general the requirement for combat forces will be met. Where we will still have shortfalls will be particularly when it comes to the training area, where I have mentioned to you quite specifically what the requirement will be for next year. And I think some critical enablers like helicopters, which are always a challenge. But in general, when it comes to combat forces the requirement will be met.

JOURNALIST 5: Sorry, back on OMLTS and POMLTS. I'm just slightly confused by the numbers. You said we've got over 300 extra POMLTS pledged. That teams, not people yeah?

JAMES APPATHURAI: That's not people?

JOURNALIST 5: That's teams.

JAMES APPATHURAI: That teams, yeah.

JOURNALIST 5: And over 150 OMLTS pledged.

JAMES APPATHURAI: Well no, there will be 150, let me be clear, I tried to be clear. Now, under NTMA, there will be, including the pledges and existing POMLTS, or sorry, OMLTS that were in theatre, there will be over 300 police operational mentoring and liaison teams and 150 also operational mentoring and liaison teams under NTMA. Some of those particularly when it comes to OMLTs are not new, but they're brought in under the NTMA, which itself is new.

JOURNALIST 5: (Inaudible)

JAMES APPATHURAI: If you add them up, yes, it's over that.

JOURNALIST 5: I remember last week, General Tremblay, you were saying that we had 62 OMLTS and we needed 152 and we had 16 POMLTS and we needed 180. So first question: has the requirement changed for next year and secondly, if you're going from 16 POMLTS to over 300, have you actually got the capacity to be able to absorb those out quickly or will it take time for them to deploy.

ERIC TREMBLAY: Sixteen OMLTS (inaudible)?

JAMES APPATHURAI: OMLTS.

ERIC TREMBLAY: Those numbers will… they were as of now. But then when we move it time, it does (inaudible).

JAMES APPATHURAI: In essence this is a requirement to meet. What Eric was talking about last week was basically next year's requirement. What this projection is for, the full size of the Afghan army and Afghan police. So to meet the requirement for 96,800 Afghan police and 134,000 army, you need a lot of POMLTS and OMLTS.

JOURNALIST 6: Brigadier, you said that by summer 2011, NATO will demonstrate progress to Afghan people. What kind of progress? The insurgents will be defeated by then?

ERIC TREMBLAY: There's already progress. There's better education, there's better health, there's better irrigation. For the first time, for example, over the last month, the Afghans were able to export apples to India. This is progress. For the first time, they were able to use some goods produced in Afghanistan and to send them to another country. They're collecting custom taxes. A lot more can be done and a lot more will be done but there's progress everyday. And the insurgents are understanding this, because they see it and they feel threatened by it and they're really trying the best they can to prevent those convoy, to do roadside bombs to prevent that farmer to go to the market, by attacking the bazaar where people are exchanging goods in order to live and to offer alternative to their children. So let's not kid ourselves about the vision that the insurgents have about Afghanistan. It's thinking backward. What the international community and the government of Afghanistan are trying to do is to move forward and there's certainly progress. A lot more needs to be done, but we're certainly, by enabling security and creating those security corridors and having at the heart of our strategy to defend the Afghans by protecting them and increasing services, I think that the sum of all parts and all those initiatives will bring success.

JOURNALIST 7: I have two questions (inaudible). Roughly when are the 6,800 troops are supposed to be deployed, roughly? I know you're not going to give specifics. And secondly, under this surge, I always ask this question, is there going to be return to a more aggressive use of weaponry against the drug networks? Not talking about touchy-feely stuff but can ISAF troops, if they see someone, can they zap them? Thank you.

JAMES APPATHURAI: I'll answer first and leave you second. I have no information on timelines. I have seen the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence say she would like to see… the U.S. would like to see all of these pledges flow in the first half of 2010. I can only assume that NATO headquarters would share this ambition. But I have not seen any formal timelines for when they will be coming in.

ERIC TREMBLAY: There was some noise in the background, people moving. Could you again please ask your question?

JOURNALIST 7: Yeah, I wanted to know under this surge in the future if ISAF troops will be authorized to directly confront and kill drug traders.

ERIC TREMBLAY: No, no, but the role of ISAF is clearly to bring security to the Afghan people and to remove the malign influences at the local who are linked to terrorism. If there is a link between narco traffickers and terrorism, either of bridging, financing, money or the daily Taliban who is also a terrorist, but who also happens to be a narco trafficker, those are legitimate military targets. But that is the extent of the role of ISAF when it comes to answering your question.

JOURNALIST 8: (Inaudible) from AFP. The new strategy was going to be a smarter fight and we've got 40,000 troops. So we've got the numbers sorted out. But obviously, there's enablers. You've mentioned helicopters. I wonder about intelligence resources and things like that. You’ve mentioned the combat force requirement will be up. Does that mean that it's going to be combat forces in the major cities that are going to defend the civilians? Because the focus now is not combat, right? It's more defending civilians and then fighting when you have to. And I assume that all that implies maybe not a change of rules, but looking at how you do things a little differently as well and General McChrystal raised this enhanced coordination, cross-border coordination with Pakistan. Is NATO going to look a little more at the border area or about what else it can do?

ERIC TREMBLAY: Additional forces provide that. They provide what we've said we needed all along, which was trainers for the Afghan National Security Forces. What additional forces do provide also is the ability to partner with the police and partner with the Afghan national army, not necessarily, the same objective as trainers do back in training centres, which is to increase the size of the Afghan national army or police, but to the increase the effectiveness. So if we have at the heart of the strategy to protect the Afghans, population-centric strategy. But what we're really trying to do is to create those corridors where you kind of link up those key cities, those villages, those communities, those main roads, those development projects. For example, in Kejaki, there's a Kejaki dam who is currently functioning but could be functioning at much higher rate if we're able to install a third turbine and also modify the distribution network for the electricity. The major limitation that we're having to deal with is the lack of security. So additional forces would enable us to do exactly that. Now we realise that it's always a matter of priority. So we've came up with 80 focus districts for which those will be the districts that we're going to concentrate first and 41 other key districts or important areas for which that any other resources that is coming our way we can slowly move on to those districts. And we're really thinking that by doing that, we'll reach 60 to 70 percent of the population, but also we'll be able to deliver what the Afghans need, increased security in their remote areas. I could speak about the border, but again, it's a long border. It's very porous, if not almost open. And it's very difficult to maintain security with those conditions. Now this being said, there's a tri-partite commission where we link the efforts of the Afghans national security forces with the Pakistani military and the ISAF, where we exchange information, we exchange intelligence, we exchange best practices when it comes to counter improvised explosive devices or when it comes to border security. So yeah, there's certainly some nodes along the border where we try to have better coordination, but it always comes to the amount of forces that you have versus where the population is. And in those areas, it's very remote. So it's not necessarily where the population is.

JOURNALIST 8: (Inaudible)

ERIC TREMBLAY: The role of ISAF was within Afghanistan territory.

JOURNALIST 9: Vanessa Mock, Dutch Media and the Independent. Just a question on timing of training these Afghan police and army. We've got a huge number of… tens of thousands to train up. You know when all the trainers are going to be in place. So have any estimates been made and how does that square with the wider strategy of starting a kind of handover in 2011? Thanks.

JAMES APPATHURAI: Can I answer the question by quoting Reuters? U.S. military aims to increase Afghan forces by 50 percent by July 2011. This is the new head of NTMA. Realistically, we think we'll be between 250,000 and 280,000 total.

JOURNALIST 9: (Inaudible)

JAMES APPATHURAI: Half of the, well the policy has been quite clear and that is to move as quickly as possible to an increased number. There has been no formal agreement by the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board which is the body responsible for agreeing a higher target. I don't even think there's been a formal discussion at this point. We're still trying to meet the target that we have. We're going to accelerate the training with the headquarters that we have and assess as we go. It's as simple as that.

LUKE BAKER (Journalist): Luke Baker from Reuters. General, you said that there's a need to change… take back the momentum from the insurgents and you'll also have… it sounds like a full complement of combat forces by next year. We don't know exactly when by next year. Obviously, there's always frequently an offensive by the insurgent in the spring time. Can we therefore expect a renewed kind of what you guys sometimes call kinetic, sort of offensive by forces early next year in order to take back that momentum?

ERIC TREMBLAY: I think the intent of General McChrystal with the force flow is as soon as possible to demonstrate the ability to just do that in order to protect the Afghans, but also separate the insurgents from the population. With the arrival of additional forces, a bit similar to what you've seen over the last summer, you can certainly expect that some areas who still need to be clear, held and built will be part of some areas where those additional forces will go and contact other missions. Yes.

LUKE BAKER: Is there is risk therefore, I mean if there is more intense combat like that of higher civilian casualties and those sort of things that have caused problems in the past.

ERIC TREMBLAY: It's for that reason that General McChrystal has published a tactical directive and a COIN guidance, and is having a COIN team on the ground to assure those lessons learned. And it's all about leadership and to ensure that people understand that we're there to protect the Afghans and leadership from top to bottom to ensure that we minimize collateral damages and we put at the heart of our strategy to lessen, to protect the Afghans and to work in cooperation with the Afghan National Security Forces. So it's an increase in tempo, could lead to increase collateral damages but again, we're mitigating these through a tactical directive, a COIN guidance and firm leadership to restrain as much as possible the use of force when we think, based on profile of life analysis, that it could cost collateral damages.

JAMES APPATHURAI: Last one.

JOURNALIST 10: Just a quick question. You said, you mentioned lessons learned. Has there been any effort to learn wider lesson of guerrilla wars, for instance Vietnam of the Russian war in Afghanistan or the Russian war in Chechnya? I understand that there have been some contacts with American historians, but has there been some wider effort to learn these lessons? Go ahead.

ERIC TREMBLAY: The strategic assessment was done with key subject international major experts on counter insurgency and on conflict resolution. So it's the minds of many who have shaped that assessment and brought to light all those lessons through the last 40, 50 years of conducting counter insurgency in the world. So there's certainly lots of knowledge who has been injected in this strategic assessment, but also in the practices either the practices of counter insurgency who are communicated eight in the COIN guidance or the tactical directive of General McChrystal.

JAMES APPATHURAI: My friends, thank you.

Last updated: 10-Dec-2009 12:21