11 Oct 2007

ISAF Video Tele Conference

Interview with Major General Kasdorf (Chief of Staff)

MODERATOR: General, the floor is yours.

MAJOR GENERAL BRUNO KASDORF (Chief of Staff, ISAF Headquarters): Okay, thank you very much.
I am Major General Bruno Kasdorf. I belong to the German army and I have been Chief of Staff in this headquarters since January of this year. To introduce a Chief of Staff a little bit more, what do I do here in Kabul: I co-ordinate the work of around 1,200 military and civilian personnel in the headquarters that is directing the operations of the overall 40,000 strong International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

We are accomplishing our mission in a challenging environment. The media are full of negative, partly(?) alarming news about Afghanistan - record high narcotics production, wide-spread corruption at all levels of the government, the perception of insecurity by parts of the population and so forth. Part of the challenge, however, is to analyze the situation in sufficient detail. As a matter of fact, the situation is multi-faceted and multi-layered. There is no black and white in Afghanistan. Rather there are grey tones in all shadows.

To give you an example: the media are mainly reporting the at times fierce fighting in the south, but they are not mentioning the relative security in the north. The press is full of Taliban atrocities against civilians in the east, but there is no report about relative stability in the west. Three out of five military regions making up approximately 60 percent of the territory are relatively stable. I'm not saying that this gives us reason to be complacent, but it shines a different light on Afghanistan than the mainstream news giving the false impression of an all-out war in this country.

One should not forget that it has been only a year now that ISAF took over responsibility for all of Afghanistan. Only since then we were able to actively pursue the insurgents all through(?) in their traditional southern and eastern strongholds and this push naturally initiated an increased resistance.

So here again there are two sides of the coin to be considered. The obvious rise in numbers of clashes with insurgents is not an expression of heightened tension or insecurity per se. It rather shows the more active stance of ISAF towards the insurgency in 2007. This led to indisputable operational successes. There was not a single direct confrontation with insurgents who were not beaten heavily. Most importantly, ISAF, alongside with coalition forces of Operation Enduring Freedom, were quite successful in eliminating mid- to high-level leadership of the insurgency. Desperate but ineffective tactical behaviour of the enemy is a clear sign thereof.

We will continue to capitalize on the military successes achieved so far. However, for maintaining security in a region after establishing it there we must build on the indigenous Afghan military and police forces. Yet, they are not ready to do that to the extent necessary. So in our own interest we must do more to enable a faster build-up of the Afghan National Army's and Police capabilities to a sufficient degree.

And security is not an end in itself. Key to overall success here is the conduct of orchestrated actions across the three lines of operations - security, governance and reconstruction. Improved security conditions will allow the Afghan government, supported by the international community, to search(?) governance and reconstruction initiatives. This will be mutually beneficial as there is neither reconstruction nor good governance without security and no lasting security without reconstruction and good governance.

Despite a lot of criticism, there is a lot of progress also in terms of reconstruction and development. Since 2001 more than 50,000 projects comprising upwards of more than $14 billion were completed or initiated. The Afghan gross domestic product has doubled since 2003 to almost $10 billion dollars and that is not due to the increase in narcotics trade alone. Nowadays there are three million mobile phone users as opposed to near zero in 2001. And each month there are 150,000 more.

Access to and provision of health services has dramatically increased. To give you an example: in August a country-wide immunization program to vaccinate 7.4 million children below the age of five years against polio was conducted. Another example: currently there are 618 basic health centres, 360 comprehensive health centres, almost 50 district hospitals, 30 provincial hospitals, four regional and national hospitals, 19 special hospitals and so on. These facilities allow more than 80 percent of the population access to medical care as opposed to eight percent under the Taliban terror regime.

A further growth sector is education. Six-point-five million children are attending school today. About 40 percent are girls, as opposed to about 1.6 million boys only under the Taliban regime. From 2009 onwards there will be 20,000 new teachers trained per year. In Kabul alone there are five universities, 14 faculties and about 10,000 students. These are examples for promising progress that has been made.

Again, we are not complacent here at ISAF. We are very well aware of today's and tomorrow's challenges in Afghanistan and it will take a long time for reaching lasting stability, but there is reason for optimism and I hope I could give you some evidence for that. That is all what I have as an introductory statement and now I'm happy to take your questions.

MODERATOR: General, thank you very much for your presentation. I'll immediately open the floor to questions.
Ahto, you're in first.

Q: I'm Ahto Lobjakas, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty. General, when you take the entire country as your reference point as you did, then obviously the situation is not as grim as it is sometimes depicted, but I wonder if ISAF is sufficiently aware of the different nature of the insurgency in the south and the east. Do you not agree that you might be facing a completely different situation in the south and the east as compared to the west and the north and therefore these comparisons don't really say much? Would you not agree that in the south and the east the situation is qualitatively different?
Thank you.

KASDORF: I think that it was something that I already mentioned during my short presentation. Of course, the situation is very different in the south and the east to that of the north and west and that was the reason that I talked about 60 percent of the country is comparatively calm. We don't have a lot of security incidents in the north and the west and indeed most of what we are concerned about is in the south and the east and we are pretty well aware of what is going on there.
Back to you.

Q: General, it's Paul Ames here from the Associated Press. The Afghan authorities carried out a mass execution this week in Kabul. I think 15 prisoners were shot. Can I have your thoughts on that in how that might affect ISAF's policy of handing prisoners over to the Afghans?

KASDORF: First of all, it is indeed more a national and political issue and it doesn't have a direct effect on the military operations. With regard to handing over detainees, we have a standing operational procedure that is detailing under which conditions we do that. This was checked and scrutinized by the International Committee of the Red Cross and they were very happy with that. And at the end, it is indeed an issue for the nations whose soldiers have taken prisoners how to handle these issues.
Back to you.

Q: Yes, if I could just have a quick follow-up.
Given that some countries do have restrictions on handing over prisoners to situations where they may face the death penalty, does ISAF have any facilities for holding prisoners of its own should this become a problem... handing them over to the Afghans?

KASDORF: These facilities are with the national contingents.

Q: Yes, Brooks Tigner here, Jane's. It's good to hear that ISAF is making good progress in the south and that the Taliban is in disarray, but I wonder at what operational and economic cost this implies for NATO forces. And here I refer to the lack of interoperability all across the board. I was at NATO's Industry Day in Warsaw last week and I heard your own ISAF commanders saying we have severe command and control problems, we have helicopters of the same make that can't service one another, they have to be shipped back to Europe, we only can communicate across joint intelligence and reconnaissance by putting people in the same room with telephones and this is no way to conduct a modern war.
How are you overcoming this and do you foresee that this is going to be different at the next NATO mission, wherever it is? Thank you.

KASDORF: First of all, I think we have to admit that we... there is still a lot of room for improvement. But let me start with the point that first of all, I think it is a great signal of support for this nation that 37 nations have taken on this mission and all of them are committed to bring a better future to these people. I think that is the most thing.

Then there is a lot of effort, a lot of understanding that the cohesion of the Alliance is an end in itself and we do everything what we can do in order to overcome obstacles and difficulties.
It is why if you talk about communication means, for instance, that they are not always interoperable and we could really improve there. But that depends also on the developments of the different nations, even so that I know that we... the higher headquarters of NATO have the kind of committees that have the mission or the task to ensure that these means are as compatible as possible. But we have, depending on the nation, different amounts of investment and that also makes for the difference.

And if we talk is the operation really hampered by that, we could say, okay, to a certain extent. Is it the war of the 21st Century or the operation... I'd rather talk about operation 21st Century, is that what is required? If we were up against somebody who is as advanced as we are, it could make an impact, but if I see how the operation is running here, I think we do pretty well altogether.
Back to you.

Q: (Inaudible) from Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung. General, I got a question on the many caveats that the allies have. For example,  Germany. You just mentioned that the north... that you have a relative security there, and I don't understand why the vast majority of German soldiers have to stay in the compound during their service in Afghanistan. That's what I heard recently from soldiers and even from officers. One example, a German doctor spent eight  weeks in Afghanistan for let's say idealistic reasons and he had... later he complained saying that he had only 170 patients, that's in eight weeks, that what he has in two or three days in Germany.

Another example, you have well-trained mechanics, cooks and they could do more jobs if they were allowed, or better jobs if they were allowed to leave the compound.

KASDORF: Okay, I think I got the question and it is not that new to me. First of all, I would like to say something about caveats, and if we look at these headquarters, is it, of course, that we can't be happy with any caveats. We would like to have a force that we really can employ and task as we think it is needed.

So but we have to live with that and we work around. Then if you talk about soldiers staying in the compound, then you are talking about what is really required. We always... we need a kind of logistical base, and we try to improve these so-called tools, so the forces that are going out, total logistical base, to improve this ratio as much as we can. But this logistical base, how many forces you have ever, is always required. And that explains to a certain extent that, for instance you find in the north, but you find it all over Afghanistan, always forces, men, women, staying behind in the compounds.

And then one additional point with regard to the Germans in the north. I know the national discussion that was going on in Germany, why they didn't move somewhere. If you look at that here  in Afghanistan, we have indeed, within the different regional commands, the forces optimized for their respective area. So you cannot easily take forces out of their PRT in the north or the west and move them somewhere. It wouldn't make any sense.

Q: General, good morning. It's Bouke Bergsma, from ANP, Dutch News Agency. The Dutch government will probably, in the beginning of November, take a decision on whether to prolong the mission in Oruzgan or not. Now there's a lot of talk about the so-called domino effect. If the Dutch would cancel their mission or would substantially withdraw a lot of troops that could lead to other countries not going to Afghanistan or also withdrawing troops. How much do you fear that so-called domino effect? Thank you.

KASDORF: First of all, it is of course the political question, and I don't want to interfere in internal issues of the Netherlands, but what I can tell you, indeed that with 40,000 troops ISAF has not that what is really requires to ensure security throughout this big country, that is more than twice as big as Germany, for instance.

So we desperately need all the contributions from the different member nations of NATO.

Q: Yeah, it's Paul Ames again from the Associated Press, and I'd like to come back again to the question of the executions. Just to be clear, there is no NATO ISAF policy on handing over prisoners to the Afghans where they might be in a risk of facing the death penalty it's down to national delegations.

Just to be clear that's correct, and if that is correct, can I ask you in your capacity as Germany's top soldier in Afghanistan, what's Germany's policy with regard to handing over prisoners to the Afghans?

KASDORF: First of all, I think you understood correctly, that it is indeed a national issue at the end. What we put out as ISAF is indeed... is a standing operation procedures where we  have certain guidelines. For instance, that we keep normally detainees not longer than 96 hours. So if you talk about Germany right now I can't tell you exactly what Germany's position on that is, but being a German and having lived in Germany for almost all of my life, I can imagine that Germany would have big problems to hand over detainees that have to fear to be executed.
Back to you.

Q: Ahto Lobjakas, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty. Returning to my earlier question, if NATO... if ISAF is doing sterling work in 60 percent of the country how long will it take then for your work to be as satisfactory, as excellent in the remaining 40 percent, assuming that the country's... a single reference point.
And secondly, you detailed impressive advances in reconstruction, social field, health care, so on and so forth. Could you say what advances have been made in terms of governance, which you said was a second factor in ensuring security? Thank you.

KASDORF: Okay, first of all,  if we talk about this 40 percent in the south and the east the first condition we have to meet is, indeed, security, and since we haven't gotten enough forces we can ensure security only in certain areas. We don't... we do hope that we have enough forces available at the latest in three to four years, for all of Afghanistan, when the Afghan National Security Forces have been built up and trained. And then of course, we get also everything else moving, reconstruction and governance.

Now if we talk governance, that is indeed a big challenge for this country. It was at war almost 30 years and doesn't have a lot of capacities. So it is not that easy to find capable people. And in addition, it is not that there is a lot of money available to pay officials.

What you see on the national down to the local level is, on one hand great people working for their nation, and on the other hand also corruption, endangering any progress. And I think all of us here working in Afghanistan and for Afghanistan, including the Afghan government, recognizes that, and we know exactly that we have to do something against in particular corruption.
Back to you.

Q: Brooks Tigner, Jane's again. There was... I want to change subjects here. There's a growing consensus across the EU, UN, NATO, and other regional security organizations, that international... that integrated peace operations is the way ahead for modern conflicts. That is, advanced planning and coordination among military, civil, political, humanitarian development and yet we don't see this, I think, in Afghanistan, correct me if I'm wrong. There's been a lot of criticism from the development and aid communities about NATO's PRTs, that they send conflicting signals to the local population about who's doing what. I'd like you to respond to that as one question.
Secondly, do you see evidence that integrated peace operational planning is taking place in your headquarters? You have a lot of personnel there. So what are the lessons learned, if there are any? Thanks.

KASDORF: I think first of all we have to acknowledge indeed that ISAF is only one actor. It is not that we have responsibility for all the areas that you mentioned. We are talking here at the headquarters about three lines of operation. There is security, that is reconstruction, and there is governance. Our main focus has to be with security. And ISAF contributes I would say 20, 25 percent to the solution here. The rest has to come from other organizations.

Overall, I think we have very good contacts and we coordinate a lot. But it doesn't mean that we have already achieved everything what is required, and it  doesn't mean that we can't improve the way we do business.

If we talk, as ISAF, about reconstruction or governance, then indeed we are more in a kind of supporting role. And be it our PRTs, or be it the headquarters here in Kabul, we are the facilitators and we see us in that role, rather than the main actors. And we take that on only if others don't. And that is also how we look at our PRTs.

And I admit also that against the background that we have made a lot of experience during the last 15 years that there are still a lot of things that I couldn't imagine that they are still needed to be tackled in order to take on a mission like that here in Afghanistan. Back to you.

Q: Yes, I have a follow-on question. Again, coming back to integrated peace operations, as we all understand it to be, do you feel that this has been achieved in Afghanistan among all the relevant players or not? Thank you.

KASDORF: To a certain extent, yes, but only to a certain extent. Not to a 100 percent.

Q: (Inaudible) from Germany again. General, I think not only for the German public, but now I'm talking about Germany, it's very confusing to have three mandates. For example, ISAF, OEF and Germany, the Tornado mandate. Doesn't it make more sense to have only one single mandate?

And second question, what exactly are the Tornados doing? Are they part of only of ISAF or are they part of OEF, or how will you draw a sharp line?

KASDORF: Yeah, I think you can indeed make a point about the single mandate, but that would mean also to accept... to extend the mandate of ISAF because counterterrorism is not included. And with regard to NATO, Tornado is part of ISAF. They are our forces, and we are tasked from this headquarters and the results of their reconnaissance flights are coming directly to these headquarters. And we have procedures in place that indeed access to these results are only within ISAF.

Talking about OEF, I don't like to differentiate between the so-called good ISAF mandate on one hand, and the bad OEF mandate on the other hand. We have to imagine what they do under OEF that is to very high extent the training of the Afghan National Security Forces, and on the other hand, most of the operations that are carried out by OEF are in support of ISAF.
I do hope that that is good enough as an answer.

Q: It's Bouke Bergsma from ANP. A follow-up on Brooks' questions on PRTs and reconstruction, because there are quite a lot of NGOs in Afghanistan who are considering going to Afghanistan who state that their work is being harmed by ISAF. They claim that ISAF should stay away from reconstruction because every project that has an ISAF stamp or an ISAF mark is in danger and is likely to be demolished, and every connection between NGOs and ISAF soldiers is a problem for those NGOs? What do you tell those NGOs?

KASDORF: I think that is a wrong assessment. If you look at Afghanistan and what has success then I think the first thing the Afghan will tell you, the first condition is, indeed, security, basic security. Now talking about reconstruction and reconstruction projects, if these projects improve the life of the Afghans then it endangers the objective of the insurgents. Because if you talk to the Afghans and ask them, they don't want the Taliban back. So every improvement of their life is a danger for the extremists.
And you cannot rely that if you do it without security that you succeed. I think that is a misbelief. For that very reason we as ISAF look at that in a different way. We see ourselves as part of a international team and to this international team belong also the NGOs and GOs, as well as ISAF.

And if you look from this angle I think you get a different perspective on that. For that reason I have a hard time to understand what they really mean.
Back to you.

Q: Ahto Lobjakas, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty. Partly to develop the same point, you said ISAF covers about 25 percent of the work that needs to be done in Afghanistan. Could you say which other international bodies or organizations would be responsible for the 75 percent that remains, and how are they doing in their jobs? Thank you. 

KASDORF: If I talk, for instance, about the United Nations, I talk about the European Union, I talk about the different countries that are engaged here in Afghanistan. And I talk also about NGOs. For instance, the World Food Organization.
So there a lot of actors here involved, prepared to support and supporting the Afghan people.
Back to you.

Q: Yes, General, Paul Ames again from the Associated Press. I wonder if you could give us your assessment on the recent increase in escalation of conflict over the border in Waziristan and its impact on your work in Afghanistan and ISAF's work in Afghanistan, and maybe give us an idea of the level of coordination between ISAF and the Pakistani armed forces?

KASDORF: I think you are well aware that the insurgency is to a remarkable extent fed by people from the tribal areas across the border, and in particular the Pashtu tribe has never accepted this border, this so-called Duran Line. And it is not only our assessment that from these areas emanates a lot of danger, but it is also the assessment of the Pakistani government. That was also the reason that they conducted operations in the tribal area there.

What we see is that these operations are pretty challenging and obviously also very tough. And we do hope that the Pakistani keep on their pressure on these areas and we do everything we can to facilitate it. What kind of mechanisms are there? We have the so-called tripartite commission, and this tripartite commission is working on different levels. On one hand on the short(?) level, including COMISAF, and then we have working groups also talking about border issues, intelligence, IEDs, and within this headquarters, for instance, we have even one joint intelligence centre made up of officers from Pakistan, Afghanistan and ISAF.
You see, there is a lot going on because we, as you are, are very concerned what is going on just across the border in Pakistan.
Back to you.

Q: Ahto Lobjakas, Radio Free Europe, again. Just a brief follow-up. When you say that the insurgencies to a remarkable extent fed into Afghanistan from neighbouring provinces in Pakistan, does that mean that most of the insurgency are facing in the south and in the east is not local? Of if it is local then what proportion of it is local? Thank you.

KASDORF: When you talk about the insurgents then we differentiate between so-called hard-core insurgents, or Tier One insurgents or Tier Two and Three insurgents. There are many Afghans, refugees, or Pashtuns who live just across the border. And in big refugees camps.

And that is a very good source for the so-called hard-core insurgents, in particular if they then attend, for instance, madrassa over there. And from there they generate also their leadership. It is not that a majority of the insurgents is from there. Is it only the leadership. The so-called Tier Two or Three, as a rule, are coming from Afghanistan. And it is not that tough to convince them to join the Taliban or the extremists, if they get enough pay, and normally the Taliban pay better than the Afghan authorities.

We have also many who join the Taliban who are disenfranchised, disappointed with the system here. Then it is not tough to convince people by propaganda means, because they are not that educated. Eighty-five percent of the population is illiterate. Very often coercion is also a reason. Though that makes up the extremist or the Taliban.

If we talk about numbers it's pretty tough, because if you... are we back again? Do you hear me?

MODERATOR: Yes, General, we've got you loud and clear.

KASDORF: Okay. So, good. Very good. That means if you talk about recruitment, supply, no, it is not that tough to get the records that they need. And for that very reason we don't talk about numbers.

What we have realized in this year so far, is that the successes that we had with our operations amongst the insurgents, that that served as a kind of deterrence, and that it became tougher for the insurgents to recruit people down south and east.

Q: (Inaudible), General, does it make sense to start negotiations with the Taliban?

KASDORF: You know, there is a lot of talk here in Afghanistan about negotiations. First and foremost, I think it is a political question. The Afghans have a program in place where it is possible for former Taliban or insurgents to come aboard if they renounce their goals, their former goals and objectives and if they declare that they will obey the constitution here in Afghanistan. And obey the laws.

This is what is going on right now. I think it goes a little bit further. With regard to ISAF and with regard to the military area, there are no negotiations with the insurgents.
Back to you.

Q: General, Paul Ames against from the Associated Press. I think, it's been about ten days now since the start of Operation Pamir. Can you give us some indication as to how that operation is going since that time?

KASDORF: Yeah, Pamir is the continuation of our Operation Now Ruz, now in a different season of the year and is the overarching operation of all the different sub-operations that are going on in the regional commands.

So far it is running smoothly and what we intend is of course that we continue to operate throughout the year. You shouldn't expect any winter lull here in Afghanistan.

Q: General, (inaudible)... Secretary General de Hoop Scheffer this week in Copenhagen made a plea for releasing more video material from Afghanistan to the western world to explain citizens in contributing countries what exactly is going on and to win the propaganda war against Taliban.

Two questions: How easy is that for you? De Hoop Scheffer said in this area of making video we're still in the stone age. And the second point, the question is, he also made a plea for earlier declassifying material that has been filmed from military platforms, or from soldiers. Is that workable for you on the ground?

KASDORF: Yeah, it is workable, and we take every effort that is worth taking to get on the front foot with regard to communication. But indeed we differentiate. We don't do any propaganda here in ISAF and that is also a problem. For the insurgents it's pretty easy to put out something immediately and to claim responsibility, whether they were responsible or not, and to put something out whether it is true or not.
And very often it is picked up immediately by media and then disseminated and then it is out.

Out obligation here in ISAF is, of course, to tell the truth, and as a rule it takes a little bit longer to confirm what the truth really was. And I think you have, indeed, the right to ask for the truth and you deserve to get the truth. That is a challenge for us.
So we tried and looked into our organization and what we can do better, and I think we made some improvements and we are getting better. And I think it is meanwhile also very well understood by the media that we are in this kind of situation and they're a lot more careful than they used to be, a year ago or so, or at the beginning when I came here, to take as granted what the Taliban are putting out.

And then we invite all media to come over here to Afghanistan and not only to publicize our films and movies, but also to take movies yourself. So I, for instance, took German journalists down south and east in order to show them how the country looks like in an area where the Germans are not responsible, that we don't have so-called hot war, World War II-like going on in these areas.
Back to you.

MODERATOR: General, I'm tempted to make a comment here, that over the last few months we've had the benefit of flag officers from ISAF headquarters in the hotseat every week, or nearly every week, to face the music from the press in Brussels and that's been a great step forward for helping people understand and we really do appreciate ISAF's commitment, because we know how busy the staff are in the headquarters. And I'm sure there are a number of duty victims lined up over the next few weeks and months to face the music.

Q: Yes. Brooks Tigner, Jane's again, change of subject. Private security companies, these are used heavily in Iraq as we know. I wonder if you could tell us how they're used in Afghanistan? That's one question.

And secondly, from an operational point of view I would like your point of view, what do you think about the use of private security companies and their role in Afghanistan? Please don't say this is a political question, because I'm asking you this from an operational point of view. Thank you.

KASDORF: You know, we have lots of private security companies here in Afghanistan. I know that Blackwater, for instance, guards the American embassy, and so far we haven't had any problems with them. So they stick to the laws. I don't have right now complete visibility what is going on. And if you don't have enough military forces very often that is a way out then to count on private security companies. And now, of course, we could also have a political discussion whether that is the right way and to outsource these kind of critical functions, but that was, I think, not your question.
Back to you.

Q: No, but I'd like you to clarify something you just said. Quote, I don't have complete visibility of what is going on? Do you mean across Afghanistan in general or do you mean you don't have visibility of what all the PSCs, the private security companies are doing? Could you clarify that, please? Thank you.

KASDORF: Yeah, that is the last thing. Right now, if you talk about private security companies then I would need to turn around and to ask my guys in this headquarters how many private security companies are there in Afghanistan? And right now being here in this room, I cannot really answer the question how many private security companies there are here in Afghanistan. That is what I mean.
Back to you.

Q: Sounds like a case for integrated peace operations, doesn't it?

MODERATOR: I think we've got some for one last question. Ahto.

Q: Ahto, again. Ahto Lobjakas, Radio Free Europe. You mentioned money and intimidation as factors in... or tactics in recruiting insurgents.

Talking to the locals in the south though you get the feeling that the very presence of ISAF, of western troops is itself a factor that generates resentment and the locals don't often understand why NATO is there. What do you say to that? Thank you.

KASDORF: Yeah, if you look at independent polls and we get different results, then we could  say we have the support of some 70 percent of the population in this country. First of all. But that doesn't exclude that there are people who don't understand what we are doing here. That is also possible, because it is tough to communicate. It is tough if people can't read. It is tough if they don't have any electricity, not to speak about TV sets and radios.

That is, for instance, the reason that we are building a countrywide radio network and that is the reason that we distribute radios that are working without electricity. So cranking radios, in order to reach the population and to explain what is going on in this country.

And what we also do is we work with the Afghan government to use and to take advantage of the traditional ways of communication, to talk through the (inaudible), through the mullahs and (inaudible)... there a lot of improvement in doing it better.
Back to you.

MODERATOR: General, I think that's it. Very tough series of questions there. Thank you very much for your candour and frankness, and it's always good to have the view from the field. With your permission we will be putting the transcript, in fact, putting the audio visual file onto the NATO website in a few hours.