Briefing on the New Strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan - Page 2 of 13

Briefing on the New Strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan

I’ll just put one or two of the key headlines, I think, on the table here. I think, as you heard, the President wants to make sure that this mission has a focus and a clear, concise goal. And that goal, as he spelled it out, is to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda, and to ensure that their safe havens in Afghanistan and Pakistan cannot threaten the United States anymore.

As he put it, al Qaeda has succeeded in regenerating itself over the last seven years, and it is again a threat to the United States homeland and to American influence around the world and to our allies around the world.

Al Qaeda operates within a very sophisticated syndicate of terrorist organizations in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I’d be happy to try to explain that more to you in questions and answers.

Thus far, our policy sees Afghanistan and Pakistan as two countries, but one theater of operations for our diplomacy, and one challenge for our overall policy. As the President laid out, we’re going to engage intensively with the Pakistani government. We have very concrete proposals for increasing economic assistance to Pakistan, proposals that have already been put forward by the Congress. We’re also looking at what we can do on the military side.

On the Afghanistan side, the President has resourced fully the requirements of the mission — not just on the military side, but I want to emphasize on the civilian side, as well. Now, for the first time, we are providing the kind of civilian support that this mission has always needed.

Lastly, we’re going to engage in very intensive regional diplomacy with all the key stakeholders in the region in order to make sure we do everything we can to enhance security and stability in the broader region and isolate al Qaeda and the militants as much as possible.

You’ve heard the President, you’ve had the chance to speak to many of us on other occasions, so I think at this point the most useful thing to do is open it up to your questions, and we’ll be happy to respond.

Sir, you were first.

Q Should we see this as an abandonment or shift from the counterinsurgency mission that had been undertaken in Iraq and to a lesser degree in Afghanistan, shifting from that to a much more narrowly focused counterterror mission?

MR. RIEDEL: Absolutely not. I’ll let Michelle talk a little bit more about counterinsurgency, but I think there is nothing minimalist about this approach.

MS. FLOURNOY: If anything, I would say what we’re doing is stepping up to more fully resource a counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan that is designed to first reverse Taliban gains and secure the population, particularly in the most contested areas of the south and east; second, provide the Afghan national security forces with the training and the mentoring they need to expand rapidly and to take — ultimately take the lead in providing security for their nation; and finally, to provide a secure environment that will enable governance and development efforts to take root and grow.