ISAF Press Conference
Q&A: Norwegian Soldier killed during an RPG attack

  24 May 2004

Q1: This is the first RPG attack on the ISAF; is that worrying to you and will that affect the way you carry out your patrols?

A1: Any attack on any of our soldiers at any time, in any manner is cause for concern. We are guests of the Afghan people. They want us here. They want to go forward and they want some security and they perceive us as helping us get that security so any attack is concern. It will not make us more cautious. What it will do is cause us to double our efforts to ensure that we have the maximum force protection for our soldiers while still working to support the Afghan people and the development of security. That means we will remain connected to the population. We are taking a lot of measures right now as we speak to maintain maximum security for our soldiers. We will continue to do that. We are here to achieve an effect. It is an effect that is worthy and one to which we are dedicated and it is one that we can only get it by being connected to the population where we operate. We will continue to do that with vigilance.

Q2: You were in a meeting with General Bobbajon, Can you tell us what the details of that meeting was?

A2: I was not in a meeting with General Bobbajon today. Kabul Multinational Brigade is working with the Kabul City Police force in a follow up investigation. We have had superb cooperation from the Kabul City Police and will await the results of the investigation and continue to support it as long as necessary.

Q3: Were there any shots fired after the initial RPG rounds were fired.

A3: You will appreciate that getting a clear picture of what happened in those first few seconds is difficult. What we do know for certain is three rockets and three subsequent explosions a little later on. We do not believe shots were fired. The investigation will continue. At this point we don't believe shots were fired.

Q4: The procedure that was used in this attack is very similar to the attacks in Iraq. Are you afraid that the procedures used in Iraq are sweeping through Afghanistan now?

A4: Those that wish to destroy the security and stability here will use any means necessary to do so. The basic tactic remains the same and that is violent attack. Those against us continue to change the ways they execute those violent attacks. We continue to work in support of the institution of the Afghan government to pre-empt them, no matter what form they take. I am not concerned about a direct link to elsewhere. Our intent is to make sure that we can remove the capability of those people to perform those attacks no matter what form they take.

Q5: Do you have any evidence of what group is behind this attack?

A5: It is still in the early stages. We do not know yet who is exactly responsible. I am not surprised that one organization or another has claimed it. Obviously, it is to their credit to try and do so even if they weren't responsible for it. At some point at time it doesn't matter whether it was terrorist or criminal or narcotics trafficking, we don't know yet. We will investigate and prosecute it in the same way. Yes, it takes a while to do those investigations but one of the characteristics of this society is patience. We do have the patience to follow these events through to culmination and we will.

Q6: How will you assist the political impact of this attack within the provinces?

A6: This is a worthwhile mission in which to invest. We have an end state in this country defined by the constitution, the Bonicord Conference and validated by the Berlin Conference. That is something that is often missing in countries that have been destroyed by war. The road to get to that end state is sound and there is good momentum and tremendous investment to sure that that road is followed. In the short term there will be some speed bumps in that road. Our mission is to remain steadfast and support the Afghan people in managing those speed bumps to continue towards that end state of a stable, secure, democratic Afghanistan where they can have a rebuilt life. This is a worthwhile investment.

Q7: How did the attackers get away if it was a 4-vehicle convoy?

A7: These things all happened in a matter of a few seconds. It was difficult to immediately discern from where the attack came in those vehicles at night. Anyone who has been under fire would recognize that. The reaction was very quick. What we are actually trying to determine is whether the firing point was manned or whether the weapons were remotely fired. The area is built up with compounds. Those offered a variety of ways for anyone who was connected with the attack to escape the area.

Q8: For the past few months we have noticed that there has been a decrease in the security patrols in Kabul. Do you plan to continue the decrease in security?

A8: We work with all the institutions to improve the security from whatever stage it is now. I do believe there is visible improvement. It is certainly not perfect but it is not perfect in any major city in the world. We continue to, for example, the Kabul City Police to improve the capacity and capability they have to provide security. We will continue to do that until the Afghanistan government, determined by the Afghan people freely and fairly, can do that on their own. It is not an easy or a short process.

Q9: Can you tell us the identity of the Norwegian soldier that was killed and give a description of the scene of the rocket attack?

A9: My prerogative is not to talk about the identity of the Norwegian solder. That is Norwegian National chain of command responsibility so I will not address that portion whatsoever. The area itself is Jalalabad road the area that goes out toward Camp Envicta. On the south side it is built up significantly with mud houses and compounds. We believe that the firing point was very close to the road probably within 30 meters. That is about as much of the site that I can describe for you at this time.

Q10: You talked about how this was a worthwhile mission. Why is it so important for ISAF to expand outside Kabul?

A10: I only speak for the mission here that I command right now. Expansion outside Kabul has been completed and the ISAF area of responsibility includes the four provinces in the northeast. In fact I spent for days there last week to get to know that operation more thoroughly and how we can help better there. Obviously we continue to support inside the Kabul area of operations. A few months ago NATO announced its plan to expand with 5 PRT's by the Istanbul Summit. I command the mission inside the first two portions and I am prepared to complete the expansion and command the mission in the expanded areas of operation when NATO gives me the orders and the resources to do so.