Briefing on the New Strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan

And in terms of what — the missions of the troops on the ground, I think that American forces and our allied forces are going in with a couple of key missions in mind. First is protecting the population, reversing Taliban gains, creating secure environments that will allow other things to happen in the country.

But equally important is we are going to be focused on the training mission and the mentoring mission, and the building of Afghan national security force capacity, both by embedding training teams with Afghan units, but also by partnering coalition units and Afghan units. So they work together day in, day out, every day.

That — from one of our lessons learned from Iraq, is how powerful that partnering can be as a supplement to the embedded trainers.

Q Thank you. The President mentioned the Kerry-Lugar bill, billions of dollars’ worth of aid to Pakistan. He also said that Pakistan won’t be given a blank check. So I’m wondering what restrictions does the administration want to see on that money specifically?

And also, how do you react to statements from some senators, such as Senator Levin, who have said that this strategy places too much dependence on the Pakistani government to deal with extremists, and perhaps gives too much of a reliance on them to help us make progress in Afghanistan?

MR. RIEDEL: I’m not going to comment on Senator Levin’s remarks. I’ll say this: For the last eight years, Pakistan received billions of dollars in support from the United States — much of it was unaccountable; much the Pakistanis don’t even know where it went.

As the President indicated in his speech, we’re going to make sure that there is rigorous oversight by an Inspector General’s office. And we’re going to work very, very intensively with our Pakistani partners, the democratically elected civilian leadership in Pakistan, to see that we’re moving in the right direction, in the same direction that we want to go.

The United States has a long history of legislative-required sanctions on Pakistan. I think one of the things that we have learned from that history is that we need to be very careful in how we do this, and that we need to work with the Pakistanis and not box ourselves in or box them in.

So it’s going to be a complex process. We will work very closely with the Hill on the legislation. But we’re going to try on this area, as in every other area, to maintain the adaptability of our strategy, so that we can avoid finding ourselves boxed into a corner.

Q Very quick follow-up? Very quick follow-up? Is the ISI aiding the Taliban?

MR. RIEDEL: I’m not going to get into the intelligence questions which have been in every newspaper in the United States in the last several days. This strategy is built upon a very clear understanding of what’s going on the region, but I’m not going to comment on intelligence matters today.

Thank you very much.

(Source: White House)

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