Briefing on the New Strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan - Page 12 of 13

Briefing on the New Strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan

AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: We identify seven or eight countries that have critical importance beyond our NATO allies and Australia, Japan. And Saudi Arabia is definitely one of them. So is Turkey and the countries the President mentioned — China, Russia, Iran, the neighbors, obviously Pakistan. And I would add the United Arab Emirates. These are countries that have real influence in either Pakistan or Afghanistan or both, all of whom are involved whether we like it or not, and we’re going to spend a great deal of time on this. And I mentioned earlier that I was looking for somebody to coordinate international foreign assistance. I’m also looking for somebody to focus on that issue on our small — our small interagency staff that we have.

Q I know there’s no fixed timeline for what you’re working on, but there have been some time periods mentioned. The President mentioned building up the troops by 2011. You mentioned making inroads with the Taliban this summer.

Can you give any time sense about how long it will take before you know this is working or not working? Or how long — what the time horizon is? Are we talking about two years? Five years? Ten years?

MR. RIEDEL: We very deliberately do not have timelines in this study. And it goes back to what I said about the President’s determination that we check the metrics, we see how we’re doing, and we remain flexible and adaptable throughout the process.

We’re not going to impose artificial constraints. The 2011 timeline is about building up the Afghan National Army. It’s a notional idea that by 2011 we’ll be at the 134,000 —



Q Just building on from that, General McKiernan has avoided using the term “search” for the extra troops that he’s asked for. And he’s made the point that he thinks that the extra troops that are going in will need to be replaced. In other words, this is a longer-term commitment than just one-off deployments.

Do you agree with that? And will the troops, the combat troops at least, operate any differently in the field under this new strategy than they have been doing up until now?

MS. FLOURNOY: Again, I think what Bruce — I want to underscore the importance of what Bruce said. We have committed to a regular process of reassessment and evaluation of this mission. And I can assure you that the question of troop levels and duration of how many — and rotations, and so forth — will continue to be addressed over time.

What we don’t want to do is pretend that we can predict where we’ll be in a year, or what have you. But I can tell you there’s a very strong commitment at the highest levels to that process of evaluation.