Briefing on the New Strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan

MS. FLOURNOY: And I would just further add that there’s absolutely no valid comparison between the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, which was an occupation to control a country, repress a population, install their own sort of puppet leadership. We are there to, first and foremost, combat terrorism and protect our own interests and our own people from attack. But we’re also there to help the Afghan people and enable them to reclaim their country. There is absolutely no comparison that’s valid between the two.

Q I want to just check a few things. How do you plan to deal with the danger to — you’re talking about significantly increasing aid to Pakistan, for example, on the civilian side. How do you plan to deal — get that aid into the tribal areas when even Embassy workers in Peshawar had to retreat? I mean, how are you going to deal with that problem?

And is there any risk of ending up — and maybe this is for Michelle Flournoy — ending up with an Afghan army that is too large to actually support financially in the long term?

And the other question is, do you have any plans for how to improve coordination between all of the foreign interests that are involved in Afghanistan? Is there some central way that you’re going to be able to coordinate?

MS. FLOURNOY: Let me just take the Afghan national security forces question first. We have identified this as a key priority — building their capacity is a key priority in the new strategy — and we’re going to fully resource that effort for the first time in years.

We are going to — right now the first step is to focus on accelerating that growth while maintaining quality to the established targets for both the army and the police by 2011. At that point we’ll need to assess whether that growth is adequate or whether they need to be expanded further, and that determination will be made down the road. Part of that determination will be the question of sustainability, and that will obviously depend on the state of the Afghan economy, the willingness of the international community to continue to support and so forth. So that is a question to be determined in the future.

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: The last part of your question was on –

Q Coordination.

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: Yes, between the civilians and the military in the U.S. side.

Q Among all of the –

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: Oh, the international. Yes, that’s a very interesting question. Since the job I was given includes that issue — I’m actually interviewing now for somebody to do that on a full-time basis, that particular issue.

We’ve already begun extensive discussions with many other nations on how to refocus international assistance in a way that is more coordinated and more rational.

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