Press briefing

by NATO Spokesman James Appathurai and ISAF Spokesman Brigadier General Eric Tremblay at the Foreign Ministers meeting, Brussels

  • 03 Dec. 2009
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  • Last updated: 03 Dec. 2009 20:50

James Appathurai (NATO Spokesman): Thank you for coming. What we'd like to do today is two things. One is, I'm going to give you a little... excuse me, could you sit down for a sec.

Unidentified: (Inaudible...).

James Appathurai: : Cameras with... ah, thanks. I'm going to give you a little preview of the ministerial, then I'm happy to take your questions afterwards, but I have asked General Tremblay, who is the ISAF Spokesperson, Spokesman, to... Nobody blows me kisses from the back, I have to say, when I do my press conferences. Is I've asked him to come here to answer the questions I couldn't really answer, which is what does it all mean. When these forces come in? what is the new strategy? Why are we doing it? There's no one better qualified to do this than him. He's at the right hand of the commander and is a real expert on the subject.

So let me... now you're thinking, why am I talking, but I'll quickly do this and then turn it over to you.

First, on Afghanistan. I think what we've seen in the last two days is something which should not go unrecognized, and that is a striking unity in the international community on the approach that all 43, 44 countries in ISAF have agreed support for what President Obama has laid out. And a clear determination on the part of the allies and partners to support President Obama, not just in terms of rhetoric, but in terms of troops and I can confirm that we have now well over 20 countries that are indicating, or have already indicated, that they intend to increase the amount of forces that they have in the country, in Afghanistan. This is on top of the 38,000 that are already there, taking into account a doubling over the past two years.

So it is a substantial show of force and of unity that we are seeing in the ISAF community today, and I think we will see exactly that as the discussions take place tomorrow.

I think before I leave the Afghanistan subject, it's also worth pointing out that we're not just talking about abstract numbers. We're talking about real people, real soldiers, who are going into the field and putting their lives at risk for 44 countries, to defend our security. And I think we should recognize the sacrifice that they are making as well. This is not just an abstract question of figures.

On the ministerial, we will start with the NATO-Ukraine Commission and then go to the NATO-Georgia Commission. In both, I think, you will see a strong message for the NATO allies that they continue to support the Bucharest principle that both countries will become NATO members when they meet the standards and if they so desire.

The question now is them meeting the standards. We have annual national programs which will be reviewed at these meetings, and I think you will see, certainly in the case of Georgia, also... well, in both cases, but let me mention Georgia, a strong message of thanks for the very large contribution they have offered to make to the meeting in Afghanistan, to the mission in Afghanistan, as well as a strong endorsement of the territorial integrity of Georgia, a principle on which NATO will not flex.

This evening's discussions promise to be interesting. They are going to be on NATO's Open Door. More concretely, it will be on how to respond to the requests to join the Membership Action Plan from Montenegro and from Bosnia-Herzegovina. It promises, as I say, to be an interesting discussion, but the principles should be clear. And they are clear to all of the NATO members.

NATO allies see the only recipe for lasting security and stability in the Balkans to be Euro-Atlantic integration for all of the countries. In other words, membership in NATO and the EU. It's not a question of if, it's a question of when, and it's a question of how. And that's what's being discussed tonight.

Tomorrow's meeting, the ISAF meeting, will, as you know, include the 44 countries that will be part of the mission, or that are part of the mission. What you might not have known, because it's a relatively recent development, is that Foreign Minister Spanta will also be participating, as well as the UN SRSG Kai Eide.

Then in the NAC format, 28 nations, they will discuss, of course, a number of issues, but two, I think, are noteworthy. One is the Strategic Concept. They have received an interim report by the team of 12 led by Secretary Albright, and they will have a discussion about steering, or at least a discussion about the interim conclusions by the 12. The final report by the 12 will be presented to the allies in the spring and then we will move to negotiations between NATO allies for the Summit meeting that will take place in Lisbon in November... or at least, in Portugal in November of next year.

Missile defence will be the other major topic of discussion at the NAC, only meeting tomorrow. In essence, it will be a discussion to see, or to respond to, at the Foreign Ministers' level, the new U.S. approach to missile defence. And I think the discussion will, in essence, revolve around bringing missile defence more fully into the NATO framework.

Finally, there will be the NATO-Russian Council. The discussions are going well, despite what you might read in the media. They are going well. And I think the Secretary General is optimistic that we will have a broad agreement on a package of initiatives to launch a review of 21st century threats and challenges shared by the 29 NRC members, to set out a work plan for cooperation in 2010 on a number of areas, and of course Afghanistan and counternarcotics are amongst them. Terrorism, counterterrorism, fighting terrorism, is also one of those, and I think it's worth mentioning the terrorist attack that took place on the train in Russia, which killed, I think, 26 people, demonstrating that this really is a shared threat against which cooperation amongst the 29 NATO countries makes sense.

That's the broad outline of the meeting. I'm happy to take your questions at the end, but as I said, I asked General Tremblay to come here to fill you in on what the strategy really needs and I turn the floor over to you.

Brigadier general Eric Tremblay (ISAF Spokesman): Thank you James.

As mentioned by the NATO Spokesman, I'll cover the presentation through some slides and I'll be more than happy after that to answer your questions. Those slides are available for distribution.

You have heard General McChrystal since his arrival and into the strategic assessment and over the last few days clearly mentioning that the situation is serious and that the situation had deteriorated since 2007. In fact, when you look at the numbers, between 2007 and 2009 about 300 percent, and between 2008 and 2009 about 60 percent. Next slide, please.

When you look at Afghanistan those are the key groups of insurgents who are conducting operations and what the Afghans would call “the enemies of Afghanistan”. Essentially three groups: the Taliban, the Haqqani, and the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin.

These groups are... they're not specifically integrated. Mullah Omar, out of... Shura, is trying to grasp and to coordinate the actions on the ground and has issued a code of conduct last May.

As you're well aware, it was an attempt to centralize and to provide a clear intent and end state, but at the end they're falling short in terms of providing clear guidance and seeing the execution of those guidance on the ground.

When we look, for example, at civilian casualties over the last few months what we've seen is the insurgents creating even more civilian casualties than what we have observed in 2008.

When you look at the map and the more warm the colours are, either orange or red, are giving you where the hotspots are in terms of enemy activities and we've defined them in those slides by giving a set numbers of insurgent attacks and within a specific square kilometres.

What we do observe is, for example, the colour green, that clearly indicates that one, two attacks per 40 square kilometres, which at the end of the day is not as much as you can observe the hotspot, the red one and the orange one.

When you look at the areas for which there's no colours it simply means that up to now there has not been any insurgent attacks in those areas. So when you're looking forward in terms of transfer and transition you can already appreciate that in some of the areas where we are currently, ISAF and the Afghan National Security Forces, there are some districts, condition-based, where the Afghan National Security Forces have sufficient capacity, where the government of Afghanistan is able to project governance and development where you could transfer. Next slide, please.

The announcement by the U.S. administration of the additional forces, the 30,000 additional forces, in perspective within the bigger, if you want, structure of where we want to put those forces, it will come as no surprise that there's a lot, again, of red and orange areas and those specific provinces, clearly Helmand and Kandahar province, in which the bulk of the forces will go there, in order to follow up with the "shape, clear, hold and build" strategy so we can separate the insurgents for the population, increase the protection of the population and give a chance to the international community and the Afghan National Security Forces to provide security, but also governance and development.

At the end of the day it is up to the Afghans to decide, but we strongly believe that if we provide alternatives, alternatives to what the insurgents are doing, which is frankly, a couple of quick impact projects, quick justice and a silent war where at the local level they intimidate, they harass and they assault. If we can turn this around and offer a future I think that that is key to shift, to cross, to move the corner and to move along that counterinsurgency, to remove the crisis and confidence at the local level by ensuring that the malign influences, the corrupt officials, the insurgents and narco traffickers with a nexus with terrorism, are neutralized in order to enable proper governance and development.

So the force flow will concentrate, as I've mentioned, in the south, in the east and the northeast, and there's a certain expectation as part of the additional forces that the other NATO nations and partners will provide additional troops to also increase the strength of NATO and partners, or ISAF, in the north and in the west of the country.

Now, I've heard that the model that we're explaining is more like population density. It is nothing more than what we've seen when the Soviet Union had put at the centre of their strategy that it was about protecting key city centres. This is not what we have in mind. It is population centric. It is being, yes, to include the key cities, but much more than that, by including the key approaches, including the villages, including the communities, including the main supply roads or the highways. Including the main development project who can enhance population centric strategy by providing, for example, further electricity or further services so we can better protect the Afghans, but also deliver through the international community and the government of Afghanistan better governance and development. Next slide, please.

This slide with the details at the bottom of the slides, are providing you with the decision process that has led to the increase of the Afghan National Security Forces and the funding required to achieve those levels. The current level, for example, for the Afghan National Army is to reach by October 2010 134,000 troops.

But this graphic also gives you a clear delineation that once the decision was done to increase the size of the Afghan National Security Forces, that there's a unity of effort and a maintenance of the aim to ensure that we grow the Afghan National Security Forces so that we can, at some point, transit, transfer and exit when they're going to be in sufficient numbers, condition-based, district-by-district, provinces-by-provinces.

Next slide, please.

So what's the role of ISAF? Clearly, you know, we need to degrade the capability of the insurgents, but also, and this is going to become our main point of effort, increase the size, but also the effectiveness of the Afghan National Security Forces and that is key to success.

Some will argue how much do you really need at the end of the day. There's certainly some ratios from the counterinsurgency point of view that provides you a guidance when it comes to the right amount of security forces versus the population numbers. And this is what is being explained right here.

Roughly, about 20 security personnel for a 1,000 population.

Now, if we're looking at the numbers of ISAF as we speak on the ground right now that's the number, 83,467. Both the U.S. participation to ISAF as part of NATO, but also the non-U.S. members of the Alliance and partners.

On this slide, lastly, key to enabling the Afghan National Security Forces is the partnering concept where from both at the Minister level down to platoon squad at the lower level on the ground you have the full partnership of ISAF forces with the Afghan National Security Forces, both the Army and the Police, where you have that exchange of skills, knowledge, living together, planning together, training together, and conducting combat operations as required to protect the Afghans and to offer alternatives.

To enable the partnership we need some partners, observers, mentors, liaison teams who are key enablers of that partnership and the numbers that we're currently missing in order to increase further the effectiveness and be able to project those Afghan Police or those Afghan National Army Kandaks are reflected on the slide. Next slide, please.

This slide is trying to give you an idea of the ratio of force when you compare it to the world when it comes to the police. For example, the ratio right now is about 4.23 when you look at it from a broader regional perspective the amounts of police per 1,000 is much higher. So there's still a whole lot of work to be done to move from the current figure as of the end of October of 93.8 thousand up to a larger figure so that we have a ratio of police to population similar from a regional perspective in order to deliver security through the police.

On this sub-slide here that is exactly the number of the police and the distribution both from an headquarter, institutional, different types of police, border police, but also the ones in headquarters that match up at the end with the Afghan National Police total and where we are currently. Next slide, please.

A very similar analysis, but this time for the Afghan National Army, demonstrating, again, that for Afghanistan with the current numbers, that's about four versus 1,000 compared to a regional perspective who's about double.

Again, that's the current level as of the end of the October and that's the distribution of the force, the force in the field, the force filling the institutional requirements, the forces that are training the Afghans, either at their staff schools, staff colleges, and other training institutions, to give up that figures that fits the current level.

So when I've done the analysis of some of the questions that I've seen over the last 48/72 hours it seems to me that I needed to clarify the size of the Afghan National Security Forces, population centric versus population density and how we were going to take that additional flow of troops and how we were conceptually going to employ them in the field in order to remove the oxygen from the insurgents and get the government of Afghanistan on its feet to deliver alternatives for the Afghan population.

Thank you.

James Appathurai: : Questions? It's as simple as that. Let's start with one.

Q: Lorne Cook from AFP, I've got probably half a dozen questions, but I'll try and just ask sort of two. I want to be sure, when you were speaking about other allies being deployed with the U.S. troops, you seem to suggest they would generally only go to the north and west of Afghanistan. Is that correct, firstly?

And then the makeup of those troops, General McChrystal is looking for a smarter effort so more intelligence and so on, so where are these people coming from? Are they generally U.S. assets?

And if I could, the 480,000 figure, it seems the United States, at least officials are saying now, that we'll build to 134,000 army by October of next year, and during the course of next year we'll then take a look at what we might be able to do a little bit later down the line. They seem to be putting almost benchmarks in terms of whether the allies can get together trainers, whether they can get enough money and so on. They want to know that they're going to be able to move forward with a joint effort.

So how important is 480,000? I mean, that's my final point.

Brigadier General Eric Tremblay: I think James, you may want to answer the first one. The first one about the allies in the north and the 480,000.

James Appathurai: : Sure. I think the first point to make is it's not just allies, it's partners, and we have already seen, for example, a country like Georgia offer almost a 1,000 forces. They have offered to put them into the south, they have put them without caveats. So no, it is not a division, Americans go to the south everybody else goes somewhere else. I might add there are a significant number of allied forces already in the south who might well be adding, for example, the U.K. potentially with 500 to what they already have.

In terms of the 480,000 the bottom line is this, it is not a NATO decision to go to 480,000. It is not only a U.S. decision to go to 480,000, it's a JCMB decision. In other words, there is a body that is mandated to do that. It has not done that. We are currently working towards the targets that we have.

But it is absolutely right that the current... the assessment of the commander is that the current targets we have are not sufficient. So we're all going to have to look as an international community at A, what we need, and B, what we can do.

The whole point of the NATO training mission in Afghanistan is precisely to up our capacity to deliver the force levels that we need.

Brigadier General Eric Tremblay: I'd like to add that the figure that you've seen for 480,000, the numbers that have been discussed, but are not yet authorized is 160,000 for the ANP and 240,000 for the ANA. So the total of that is 400,000 versus 480,000.

And if some are trying to figure out, well, why... you've told us that we needed 480,000, well, I've mentioned that we were trying to reduce the effectiveness of the insurgents by removing the oxygen and reducing their capability. So in doing so, if you're reducing their ability to create violence throughout the country you don't necessarily need the same amount of security forces to address the issue because you've reduced the level of violence and their capacity to create violence.

On the middle questions, which was the characterization of the troops, it is quite clear that you need maneuver units of substantial sizes, either battle groups, battalions, or brigades, but you also need other capabilities, such as POMLTs, OMLTs, intelligence assets, surveillance assets, road opening packages, in order to reduce the risk and improve the protection both for the Afghan National Security Forces, but also ISAF.

Q: Can you give us the exact number of U.S. troops serving outside ISAF in OEF right now?

Brigadier General Eric Tremblay: Let's just go back to... so what we've said, as part of U.S. ISAF was about 45,000. you've heard of the 68,000 figure, so plus/minus 20,000 more, plus the 30,000 more who has been announced. But that 30,000 will go to ISAF. So the delta is from 45 to 68.

Q: I want to know whether it went to ISAF or to Afghanistan as a whole? But I had another question for James, when you were talking about the 20 partners who had already announced more or less officially that they would be ready to increase their contribution. You were probably just about to tell us how much this pledge sums up to. Is that already beyond the 5,000? Is that why you are smiling so happily?

James Appathurai: : (Laughs). It's always nice to have good news. Yes. Yesterday the Secretary General indicated that he was confident that at least 5,000 new forces would be made available. Based on what we have heard just in the last 24 hours I think we can confidently say that we will surpass that now. We are beyond the 5,000 figure.

Q: Ben Nimmo from DPA. We've been talking a lot about troop numbers, about the uplift, by just looking at that slide behind you we've only got two-thirds of the OMLTs that we need, and we've got about nine percent of the POMLTs we need, and without those there's not going to be any kind of solution in Afghanistan, so how are you going to get those, where are you going to get them, and when are you going to get them. Thank you.

James Appathurai: : Sure, you're absolutely right. We have significant shortfalls when it comes to trainers for the army and trainers for the police. We have set up the training mission to streamline army training, to bring police training also under an overall NATO umbrella, but unless we can fully resource, I say again, fully resource, the training mission in Afghanistan, it will be harder to make transition a reality in the timeframes which we are envisioning.

Which means allies do need to look, and partners, do need to look in the coming days, not just at maneuver capability, which is absolutely essential, but at filling the training mission.

It may seem a little difficult to understand why you can come up with tens of thousands of forces for combat and other missions, but it's so difficult to find what are relatively small numbers for training. But they are specialized capabilities, they are often relatively risky roles. And so it's not that easy to find. Allies do need to dig very hard and train and create the kind of capability we need.

But it has to be done. So the Secretary General will be looking for this, not just tomorrow, not just at the force generation conference which will take place on Monday, but he will continue to push very, very hard to find not only the trainers, but the equipment and the money, because it is not insignificant, to sustain the overall training effort to make the transition, as I say, happen in a realistic timeframe.

Brigadier General Eric Tremblay: I'd like to add that if you look at the OMLT and what is missing, an OMLT size for a Kandak is normally around 25, and some nations on their own contribute more, so sometimes you have 25 to 50 or 60. For the POMLTs you're looking at anywhere between 10 and 15, so if you multiply that with the numbers who are on the slide it kind of gives you what the requirement is. But we're not talking of tens of thousands here. We're only talking of low thousand.

James Appathurai: : And to put it in context, especially for police, finding countries that have deployable paramilitary or other kinds of police that can go to Afghanistan from the streets of Toronto, in my case, it's not that easy, just to put it in context.

Please.

Q: (Inaudible...), Associated Press. So the 5,000 do not include any trainers, is that correct? Or do they also include OMLTs contributions? And the other question, the 20 countries you mentioned, does that include countries that have indicated they will do something after the Afghanistan conference without making any public pledges yet?

James Appathurai: : Can I take both?

Brigadier General Eric Tremblay: Mm-mmm.

James Appathurai: : First, the breakdown about what percentage is devoted to training and what percentage is devoted to other roles is not yet clear, and I think it will become more clear at the force generation conference, where these things have to be more specific.

The 20-plus does not include any country that is waiting to make its pledge after. These are pledges or strong indications that we have right now for new contributions.

Q: Thank you. (Inaudible) from Austrian Television. You compared the situation with the situation during the Soviet occupation, saying that the Soviet troops at that time were concentrating on cities mainly. Am I wrong that at that time the communist regime in Kabul had much better control over the whole territory of the country than today, the Karzai regime, and that at that time the national army of Afghanistan was much strong than today the Kabul army? So what leads you to your belief that despite that situation the Karzai regime is not going to collapse if foreign troops are leaving, starting with 2011? Thanks.

Brigadier General Eric Tremblay: I think that we've put at the centre of the strategy to protect the population. The international community and all the ISAF with the Afghan National Security Forces are providing security and we're growing up the Afghan National Security Forces so that they can take it on their own when the right conditions are set. It's certainly not my understanding that at the centre of the equation to protect the population had been part of the Soviet Strategy.

James Appathurai: : Let me add to that a couple of points that I think are important to clarify and it's a good question, because many people ask it.

First point is, a fundamental difference. The Soviet regime was unwanted by the population and there was popular resistance against the Soviet regime. This is not the case in Afghanistan today. There is over 70 percent support for international forces to be there.

Second point, no one is leaving Afghanistan entirely in 2011. It is not an exit strategy, it is a transition strategy, and it is conditions-based. And the condition is this, that security can be maintained where handover or transition takes place. In other words, we will stay as long as it's necessary to create the conditions that we are there to create. Nobody is walking away from this to watch the whole thing collapse. Not least, after all of the sacrifices and effort that have been made until now. That should be absolutely clear.

Q: Merci. Je suis de l'Agence mauritanienne d'information. Dans le cadre de votre processus de formation des troupes afghanes dans le cadre de la rétrocession du contrôle du pays, on a appris que 25% des soldats formés ont disparu dans la nature. Après, ma question, est-ce que le chiffre est exact? S'il est exact, la situation est telle, ne serait-il pas assez inquiétant pour la rétrocession du contrôle des pouvoirs des Afghans? Est-ce que ça ne va ralentir cette stratégie? Merci.

Brigadier General Eric Tremblay: Non, en fait, c'est une question tout à fait à point. L'attrition varie d'environ 1.5 à 2% par mois. Alors, c'est évident que c'est un problème. Mais c'est un problème qui est observé, analysé et où des solutions sont identifiées de façon à réduire le taux d'attrition, d'augmenter le recrutement, ainsi que la rétention.

Par exemple, plusieurs initiatives afghanes et la communauté internationale, comme par exemple augmenter le salaire des recrues telles que la police et les soldats de l'armée afghane, de façon à encourager le recrutement, mais également encourager la rétention.

Alors, ce n'est pas comme si les partenaires afghans ne sont pas conscients des difficultés. Et nous comme bons partenaires, on les aide à développer des solutions, et des solutions pas seulement monétaires, mais des solutions où un meilleur entraînement est fait, de meilleurs équipements sont donnés, distribués de façon à faire une différence et démontrer aux futures recrues et à l'armée afghane qu'ils font une différence, qu'ils doivent se prendre en main de façon à assurer d'ici les prochaines années la sécurité complète de leur pays.

Q: Thank you. Do you have any figures about Taliban (inaudible) numbers and do you need how many years of time to defeat the Taliban if there is possibility? And second question, how do you evaluate the participation of the United Arab Emirates in Afghanistan? Thank you.

Brigadier General Eric Tremblay: I'll speak about the first one and then I'll leave it to James to answer the second one.

It is our assessment that as we've said, the situation was serious and as part of the strategic assessment centred to the COIN strategy was to protect the population and to separate the insurgent from the population.

One of the requirements to be able to achieve the strategy clearly was to have additional forces. Those additional forces who are now being provided by the U.S., but also as announced, and will be made publicly announced in the next few days, weeks and months, will make a difference in terms of force flow and force on the ground to conduct operation of clear, hold and build and separate the insurgents from the population in order to provide alternatives to the Afghans.

So yes the mission is achievable. Success can be achieved.

Q: (Inaudible...).

Brigadier General Eric Tremblay: What we've said in the past, if you go through the insurgents, we're talking of dozens of al-Qaeda operators who are in Afghanistan, hundreds of foreign fighters, and anywhere between 20,000 and 30,000 Taliban across the country.

James Appathurai: : And to answer the question on UAE, I think there are two very valuable roles. One is what the participation of countries like UAE, predominantly Muslim countries, represents. And that is making it very clear that this is not about religion. It is about security. It is about shared values. And the presence of UAE, and as I say other partners from the region in the mission, I think, sends a very powerful signal that undercuts Taliban propaganda. That alone is invaluable.

Secondly, of course, the actual participation, any potential supporting roles, I think, are not only in NATO's interest and Afghanistan interest, but also in the interests of all the countries in the region, to help to stem the extremism that those extremists in Afghanistan want to spread, to help tame the terrorism that will strike every one of our countries, and that includes in the Gulf.

So for all of those reasons it's a very important and welcome role, even if small in number, both the symbolic and the supporting role are very welcomed by NATO.

Q: There are three groups, we see the Hezb-e-Islami particularly Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in the south/north and the Haqqani network in the middle. And Taliban more operating in south, but they are coordinating in the Nuristan area now. How much really Haqqani network which you see is operating in the centre/south is increasing and which is the fatal force among three? Because Hekmatyar and Haqqani is more political than Taliban.

Brigadier General Eric Tremblay: We've certainly seen from the Haqqani network strong evidence by actions on the ground on the use of suicide bombers and spectacular attacks and their ability to project this and within the northeast of Afghanistan, but also in some instances, up to Kabul.

So within the three that you've mentioned the Haqqani capabilities are certainly up to that task, but it doesn't mean that the Taliban or the HIG are not able, up to a point to conduct such operations. But what we've observed is the lethality of the Haqqani network when it comes to operating and projecting that kind of violence in Afghanistan.

Q: (Inaudible...). I wonder why the emphasis hasn't been put more on the training missions? I understand your aim is to double the size of the Afghan Police, National Police, and Afghan National Army within two years, roughly, from each time 100,000 to 200,000. Is it virtually... is it possible to do that in a short period?

Brigadier General Eric Tremblay: What we're trying to do is to optimize the production of the Afghan National Security Forces by understanding the key factors that could prevent us and the Afghan National Army or Police to reach those objectives, such as retention, attrition and recruitment. So by ensuring that from a trainer's perspective both at the institutional level, but also at the training facilities, both national and regional, we have the right set of instructors' capabilities to deliver the proper training so that we can project those forces with the right amount of OMLTs or observers, mentors to form that partnership so that they can go in the field and fight alongside the ISAF forces.

James Appathurai: Let me add a couple of points, one is... and Eric already touched on this. We have built, the Afghans have built with our support, an Afghan Security Force of about 90,000 from nothing, from scratch, in eight years, which required of course, building a lot of the infrastructure, the facilities, the logistics, everything. And now we are reaching a new stage.

So A, a lot has been done already from nothing. Second, there is a great focus on this. It's exactly why NATO created the training mission and I can tell you, the Secretary General makes this the first point in his interventions with every leader that he meets when talking about possible contributions for Afghanistan, the training mission.

The final point, I would say, is what you will hear out of this ministerial is a very strong endorsement of the transition theme, of the need for transition and the need to resource transition. So I expect that this ministerial meeting will give new impetus precisely to this area that you mentioned, which is training, because that is the way to make transition a reality.

I think the last question is back there.

Q: Farida Saifi from Azadi Radio, Afghanistan. I want to ask you, you mentioned in provinces that apparently little bit, you know, secure places like in north, Mazar-e-Sharif, in some places in east you will start the transition process in training the police and security forces.

But definitely it will not enough. In the other places like Kandahar, Helmand, in these areas, how do you think that you will be able to find people for training? Now even if someone wants to work in the government or with NGO they are not feeling secure.

On the other hand, in recent years that people haven't facility for education. If you see that more than 95 percent people they are illiterate, how you will be able to find forces and select people for this training that they in the future they'll be able to work as a security force? Thank you.

Brigadier General Eric Tremblay: Key to the growth and acceleration of the Afghan National Security Forces is, like you suggest, recruitment. And recruitment is done obviously with the Afghans. If we look at a projection that the Minister of Education has mentioned where by 2012 up to 700,000 Afghans will have graduated from high school, who will have a certain degree of literacy, who are going to be able to join the work force and there's certainly individuals, men and women, who could join the Afghan National Security Forces and be part of the force. And that is only one example, because every year there is graduates of the high school.

It is offering alternatives for the Afghans by joining the Afghan National Security Forces and making a difference for their country.

James Appathurai: : Thank you very much. I'm afraid that's all we have time for.