DoD News Briefing with Maj. Gen. Schloesser from Afghanistan
(Note: The general appears via teleconference.)
BRYAN WHITMAN (Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs): Well, I think we're good to go now. Let's just check and make sure that General Schloesser can hear me.
This is Bryan Whitman at the Pentagon. Can you hear me, General?
GEN. SCHLOESSER: I can hear you just fine there, Bryan.
MR. WHITMAN: Well, thank you for joining us. Good morning to the press corps. Good afternoon to you, General. This is Major General Jeffrey Schloesser, who is the commander of Combined Joint Task Force 101 in Afghanistan. General Schloesser and his troops are responsible for security and stability operations in NATO's Regional Command East, where he took command in April of this year. This is the second time that he joins us in this venue and format, and we appreciate you taking the time this afternoon, General, to give us a little perspective on what your forces are seeing and what you're doing, and to take some questions from the press corps here.
So with that, let me go ahead and turn it over to you to give a brief overview before we get into those questions.
GEN. SCHLOESSER: Okay, Bryan. Thanks an awful lot. And I appreciate everybody's interest this morning back there.
I'd like to start off with some comments, and potentially they may answer some of the questions that you have, and then we'll get into the Q's and A's right after that.
As you all know, we're approaching the 9/11 anniversary, and I'd like to start off by acknowledging really the selfless service and the sacrifice of the U.S. soldiers and Marines and airmen and sailors that are here, as well as the international forces deployed in Afghanistan, as well as those, you know, throughout the world that are trying to make us have a -- or help us have a better world out there.
You know, as I travel throughout eastern Afghanistan, which is my sector, and I see our troops, there's really no doubt in my mind that they understand very clearly why we're here, even after seven years. They have a purpose when they wake up in the morning or if they wake up at night, depending upon their shifts, and it never ends while they're out there working.
I think we're actually achieving a good amount of that purpose when they -- you know, that they wake up with. We're making steady progress. We've got a long ways to go, and I'd like to kind of highlight both the progress and the ways ahead.
Of note, our area of operations -- again, it's eastern Afghanistan -- now has more alliance forces than when I talked to you in June. I'd like to highlight a couple of those for you and show you how they play in our vision of progress, as well as the future.
There's an area that we have here east of Bagram, it's called Tegab Valley. It's in the Kapisa province. You know, up until just a couple months ago, we had very few forces there at any one time, but we knew that it was a strategic area for the enemy as well as for the approaches of Kabul.
When the French partners came in, the 8th Marine Battalion, airborne, we placed them up there, and they're making really great strides in a short period of time. They call themselves Task Force Chimera. And really to be honest with you, in about two months what we've been able to do with their forces as well as some other coalition forces is eliminate about 10 - I would call them high value leaders - from the enemy there in that area. I currently think that the leadership there is in disarray, and now we've got an opportunity to continue to get after them as well as to improve the quality of life and try to connect the people in that valley to their local governance.
I'd like to begin very, very quickly with a couple different projects that will help tie them together. One of them's going to be called the Kapisa Bypass Road -- or the Kabul Bypass Road, excuse me -- and we hope to start that within just a few weeks. You'll see that pattern in many places where we try to provide security and then immediately try to work on development and linking the governance -- or linking the people to the governance. I'd have to tell you that the French forces are doing very well in their comprehensive approach.
Other alliance forces we have are the Polish battle group. I think most of you know they are increasing their forces as we speak, will eventually have about 1,600 Polish soldiers as well as helicopters here. And in November I look forward to them taking over the Ghazni province on their own, and then they'll be reporting directly to my headquarters as a separate brigade. I'm confident they'll partner with the people of Ghazni and bring not only security, but also quality of life improvements that will help shift what I call the fence-sitters to the side of the Afghan government.
You know, we've got a lot of other coalition and international partners here in eastern Afghanistan, and I probably haven't done a great job of highlighting them to the public. I'd like to highlight one for you, and that is, is our Egyptian hospital. You know, I'd asked for some numbers just recently as I was preparing for this, and what I found out is that our great Egyptian docs and nurses and Corpsmen have treated over 31,000 local nationals in about a four- month time frame, since in April. That number is really amazing, and in counterinsurgency being able to do things like that is absolutely critical as we help improve the quality of life.
Now, really most importantly, though, our most -- our largest and probably strategically nationally our most important partners are the Afghan National Army and the national police and border police.
Let me start off by talking about the Afghan National Army corps. We have two in our sector, the 201st Corps and the 203rd Corps. I know they're proud of themselves. I'm pretty darn proud of them. We've really had an increased capability, really just since we've been here in April. And we've done two very large operations. We call them Radu Barq IV and V. And what they do is they combine a large number of Afghan forces with a fair number of coalition forces, or ISAF forces, as well as Afghan National Police. And they've been working in an area that really takes in three different provinces -- Khost, Paktika and Paktia.
What we're trying to do is to address the enemy intent to really cut away our gains from last year in Khost, or Khost (using alternate pronunciation), which is a pretty significant province as far as commercial gains as well as people. And it's right on that area that borders between Afghanistan and Pakistan, a critical area, you know, for movement back and forth.
There is a road that we are trying to build. It's a $100 million road, 101 kilometers, between the city of Khost and the city of Gardez. It goes through a 10,000-mountain -- a 10,000-foot pass. It's a story unto itself, because we know the enemy has decided that they don't want us to build the road, they don't want to have the development in that area, and they realize that this road will help link government, whether it's from Kabul or whether it's from the province, to a bunch of villages as well as towns in that area.
And so we're taking them on. And these operations have been very successful in keeping the enemy from being able to get in the way of this development project. So anyway, that's pretty promising there.
We've also continued our partnership with the Afghan National Police and the Afghan Border Police. And I have to tell you that they have been making some pretty significant improvements. For the national police, the Focused District Development Program, that we talked about last time, is still ongoing and will be ongoing for some time. And those units that come out and go back into those towns are actually way better than they ever were beforehand, and I'm optimistic that we'll continue to see that.
We've also been working with General Bob Cone, a friend of mine, as well as the Combined Security Transition Command of Afghanistan, to really build on the capabilities of the Afghan Border Police. As you know, as we came in here in the beginning of the year, we saw a very significant, about 40 percent, increase in violence. A lot of it was coming across the border. Some of it was already here resident in Afghanistan. And so we've been working very closely with him to try to improve the capabilities, and our Afghan partners, all along our 450-mile border with Pakistan.
We've got about a $70 million program that they are funding, and I really am very, very pleased with what we have planned and what I see us doing over the next four or five months to increase the Afghan border police. We will partner with them just as we partner with the Afghan National Army with our ISAF forces.
Of course, they're not the only folks that we're working with along this border. And since I've talked last, we've worked very hard at a whole bunch of levels, not all of them bounded by me, with our Pak mil comrades and counterparts all along the border. We just opened up -- well, actually we opened up a couple months ago, but we've really got it now where all the people are present -- the Khyber Border Coordination Center. This is at the Torkham Gate of the famed Khyber Pass. We now have officers from Afghanistan as well -- the Afghan National Army, the Afghan border police, as well as from the Pakistani military, as well as ISAF forces there. We collaborate there with a variety of classified programs. They all -- I was just out there about a week ago, and we share Predator feeds and other feeds of that nature. And I don't want to get into more detail, but I would just say that it's a great collaborative environment.
I want to do more of these. We've got five more on the books. We're building one right now that's going to be in the south, and we're hoping to coordinate one in the north here in the next couple months or so, working with the Pakistanis.
While all these achievements are pretty darn encouraging, we still have a very significant movement by elements of the enemy syndicate that I laid out for you before: both the Haqqani network as well as the HIG as well as the Taliban and the Taliban of Pakistan, what we call the TTIP, and as well as a fair number of others, including foreign fighters.
As you all know, it's Ramadan this -- it's going to be Ramadan throughout September. I expect the enemy to continue to fight throughout Ramadan. For the first time, I think we're also seeing some indications that I'm paying close attention to that the insurgents are attempting to remain in numbers in Afghanistan over the winter. I think they're going to decrease the level of activities just because of the tough winter weather that we normally have here in this part of Afghanistan, but I do believe that the level of significant activities, maybe violence, will be higher than any previous winter since 2002.
I would say definitely they'll continue to try to attempt what I -- what we would call, you know, spectacular attacks like you're seeing from time to time in Kabul and other cities, such as in Khost. They'll continue to use indiscriminate weapons, such as IEDs. Since January of this year through the end of August, they've increased their IED attacks in Afghanistan by about 30 percent over that same period of time last year. And I mean, it's really clear when I look at the numbers, though, the people that they're killing first and foremost are innocent civilians and then Afghan national security forces, predominantly police, Afghan National Army less so, and then the coalition forces even less after that.
I believe they're going to continue to drive a wedge between our international partners by deliberately causing civilian casualties, as well as attempting to weaken international resolve by targeting our alliance partner nations -- their forces here, rather. They're going to continue their attack against the symbols of governance, such as district centers -- those attacks are up 40 percent this year from last year -- as well as schools. And they'll continue to try to create a perception of pressure on Kabul, especially I think to disrupt the upcoming presidential elections which will occur here in 2009.
Given all that, so what are we going to do? We're planning and we're going to launch a very aggressive winter campaign. This has -- this campaign's got two components. One of them is a strong military offensive and the other one is a development surge.
I think the enemy's limitations are really our advantage. Just as these operations I talked about earlier to you disrupted both them in Khost as well as elsewhere, we found winter stores in caves. We're going to plan to get after him where he hides. We will pursue them wherever they run. We will intercept them, and we're going to destroy their resources. My intent is to eliminate the support areas within our sector to diminish the enemy's ability to operate next year.
Now, the second element of this winter campaign is what I will call the development surge. And at this stage in our counterinsurgency operations, we have both the momentum and certainly the synergy, and in some cases the resources, to push into the critical locations, both the infrastructure as well as what I call QOL, quality of life improvements, to levels that we haven't been able to do ever before here in eastern Afghanistan.
The development surge includes projects that will keep military- age males employed during the winter months as well as in the spring and the summer, and there's a variety of different things that they can do while we're doing planning for much larger projects. For an example, they'll be doing things such as clearing ice and snow from roads, doing construction training workshops, road maintenance, distribution of essentials to villages that are basically isolated, such as clothes and food for them and things like that.
Equally as important are behind-the-scenes stage-setters that we're doing, where we're taking projects and getting them on the books, planning how we're going to build them, coordinating with the village elders as well as the provincial development councils as well as the governors, letting contracts when possible, and committing funds where possible as well. You know, the numbers are up around a thousand for eastern Afghanistan for this year. We'll get after all that when the snows melt.
The result of the winter campaign development surge will be the employment of those most vulnerable to the insurgent recruitment, and it will also mean construction of roads, wells, schools, clinics, micro-hydro plants in this area of Afghanistan that doesn't have much of any of that, except for what's been built over the last five to six years.
This year we've committed about $479 million of CERP funds to these projects. That's twice the amount that was committed last year and hence what we're calling the development surge. It's less than our request for next year. These projects are small in individual scale, but they're enormous in impact, whether it's at the individual village level all the way up to province level.
The CERP is in a way a catalyst for connecting the Afghan people back to their government by way of these incredible quality of life improvements. It doesn't sound so tough or so interesting to us that are Americans, but clean water and access to health care, the ability to use a telephone, a cell phone -- it's all incredibly important here in this country, and we're making great strides along those ways.
The truth is, we're trying to match the power we have here, both the hard power, like I've talked about, as far as the operations that we're going to do on the ground with our troops, as well as soft power, and that's the CERP, then, the development funds that I've talked about.
I'm going to ask for more troops. I think it's pretty commonly known that I already have. And I'm optimistic that we'll potentially see them in the coming months.
Likewise, I will ask for more CERP to plant the seeds of progress for the Afghan people, and they can harvest that next year, as well as the years to come.
Finally -- and I know I've gone on, but let me talk about one thing that I think is very important to all of us. Civilian casualties are a tragedy in war. I'm a commander, and I'm also a human being. And I will tell you that I deeply regret the loss of life of the civilians out here in Afghanistan, either by an operation we conduct or by accident.
I think you know that we are here to support the Afghan people and their government, not to do them harm. It's a challenge, though, that we face each and every day, because the enemy deliberately targets and endangers civilians. This is an enemy that dresses in women's clothes, in burqas, because they know we are compassionate and respectful to women.
The enemy continually attack(s) our forces and Afghan forces from civilian areas, many times from within structures where we cannot know who is being held hostage inside.
The enemy routinely exaggerates the number of civilian casualties as propaganda, just pure and simple. They use lies and deceit as an asymmetric strategy. They seek to wear away our partnership with the international community, with NATO and with the Afghan people. We must and we will defend ourselves, and we will continue to do so with restraint, discipline and within the full compliance of the laws of war.
So therefore, in closing, let me just highlight the four -- that's what we do in the military; I've been doing this for 32 years, and I'll do it again.
We've gotten good success so far, but we've got a lot and more ways to go, I think, in the months to come. We'll continue to conduct aggressive operations, and I believe that we'll do that throughout the winter, with our winter campaign.
We will need some resources to do so. And I've asked for those in the way of troops, and I will ask for those in the ways of the way of the CERP funds.
And then finally, I'd like to leave with you again, we do not deliberately target civilians, and we take great measures to prevent them from coming to harm.
With that, I'm ready for questions.
MR. WHITMAN: Well, thank you, General, for that comprehensive review. And we have lots of questions here. So we'll start with Bob.
Q General, this is Bob Burns from AP. In regard to your request for additional U.S. troops, and given your stated expectation of very significant enemy activity this winter, how urgent is that requirement, and what are the consequences of not getting it in the next few months?
GEN. SCHLOESSER: Okay. Well, first let me just say that we're not losing a war out here, by any means, you know. So it's not something that is in extremis or it's life or death to the soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen that we have here. But however, if we're going to continue to make good progress in a timely way, which is what I believe the American people want and desire, and clearly that's what the international community wants, and the Afghans do, as well, then I believe that more forces are required. And I think that over the next several months we can put them, certainly, to good use.
Q Could you address the second part of my question about the consequences of not getting them in a timely manner?
GEN. SCHLOESSER: I'm sorry, I thought I did that in the front. We're not losing this war, and we won't lose them if those troops don't show up in the next several months. Again I'll reiterate, though, if we're going to try to do this in a more timely way and be as effective as I want to be and as I've laid out for you and, you know, maintain the momentum and get after this winter campaign, then we're going to need them, you know, within, say, the winter time frame.
MR. WHITMAN: Let's go over to the -- (off mike). Barbara.
Q General, Barbara Starr from CNN. Could you focus for a second on the enemy you face? You spoke about it as a syndicate. Tell us a little more about what you mean, the interaction between the various elements that you see. And who is -- you named some of them, but help people understand. Who are the new generation of Taliban and al Qaeda leaders that you see out there that are organizing this level of activity?
GEN. SCHLOESSER: Barbara, as always, you ask good questions and tough ones. But I'd love to do this. Bear with me because, again, it's a syndicate because it's complex.
In RC East and, I would dare say, you know, on the other side of the border, what we see happening here is, is a number of different groups, sometimes with disparate tactical goals, sometimes with what I would call their strategic goals in a loose sense are similar. And let's just start off with the Taliban.
Everybody knows about the Taliban. The ones that you normally see here really respond to different shuras than the ones that you have in the south, which are oriented toward the Quetta shura. Up here we have the Miram Shah and the Peshawar shuras, and what we're seeing is a number of younger leaders inside that group of the Taliban.
You also have -- and sometimes is confusing -- the TTP, the Tehreek Taliban-e-Pakistan. All it means is it's a Taliban movement for Pakistan. This is led by Baitullah Mehsud. He's essentially a young buck from the Mehsud tribe. This is a tribe of very proud warriors historically, and they're hundreds of years old, based in the FATA region of Pakistan. He's been able to mobilize a number of these, and they have decided that not only are they going to try to go against the government of Pakistan, which they are, but also against the GIROA, the Government of the Islamic Republic Of Afghanistan.
Working our way out and up, you have two different groups that are essentially Afghan insurgencies that are based upon networks or tribes or families within Afghanistan, yet they still seek some amount of safe haven across the border. The HIG -- you know, Hekmatyar's group -- Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has long been a player here in Afghanistan, and he works in an area that cuts a wide swathe right across really sort of the central to northern part of our area of eastern Afghanistan.
You also have the Haqqani network. Jalauddin Haqqani's sons are now deeply involved in it. Siraj Haqqani is commonly operating in RC East and has great links to the Zadran tribal area there. Again, both of those are insurgents from Afghanistan.
Then you have some other groups that you would never have ever expected to see in this area, say, two or three years ago. One of them was Lashkar-e-Taiba, LET for short, normally a terrorist group involved up in Kashmir and involved in between Pakistan and India. We see groups -- we see numbers of them down here operating as well. The TNSM -- Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi -- which is a group that commonly before was a radical Islamic group but was not prone to violence, and now they are providing fighters into Afghanistan as well.
There's a number of other groups out there. Al Qaeda actually has a -- in a sense, an ideological ringleader, sometimes helping with funding, sometimes helping with facilitation. And from very short times we do believe that they even participate in operations, but that's pretty infrequent.
Finally, you've got the foreign fighters that we're beginning to see I would say, a little bit more of here inside RC East, and clearly they were involved before, to a lesser extent, as far as facilitation. We now have some certainly inside RC East. The attack that occurred in Khost there in (Forward Operating Base) Salerno involved, we know, two Arabs and up to six Chechnyans. I won't tell you how we know, but I'll just tell you we do know. And again -- by the way, that attacks involved -- was not able to kill any number of coalition members, but only killed 10 innocent civilians and wounded 13.
Now, why are they working all together? I mean, again, I think they come together rarely to -- they have a common strategy or a common ideological end state that's, I guess, fairly loose. In other words, they like to have basically a political entity that's involved in a radical Islamic government. And they do believe that the Afghanistan government is not a legitimate government. So they're all working together in some senses. Sometimes we see them, you know, involved in collaborative groups. Again, this is not a huge, strong movement; it is not a team. There are ways to break it apart. But we do see them all operating in the sector in RC East.
Q Very quickly, how big is -- what do you assess? How big is the enemy force, the insurgent force overall? What are you going up against?
GEN. SCHLOESSER: I thought you said how big is this in total numbers?
MR. WHITMAN: Correct.
GEN. SCHLOESSER: Yeah. I believe we have about between 7,000 and 11,000. I know that sounds fairly loose, but those are the numbers that I am currently working with.
MR. WHITMAN: All right. Let's go to Tom.
Q General, it's Tom Bowman with NPR. You said you expect the Taliban and other fighters to remain in Afghanistan over the winter. You also say you expect the task to be harder than any other previous winter since 2002. And you also say we're not losing a war. But are you winning, or are you somewhere in between winning and losing?
GEN. SCHLOESSER: Okay, Tom. I'm not sure if that first part was a question or a statement. I did say that, that some number I anticipate will try to stay in Afghanistan. I believe that some actually stayed in Afghanistan last year and that allowed a bit of an extra oomph as they started off with a little bit higher level of violence in April and May and June.
The question then is, is are we winning or losing? We're not losing this war by any means, like I said. We do probably need more resources to execute in a timely manner. And I got to note that, you know, just as the chairman has called Afghanistan an economy-of-force theater, we need to get away from that over time. I believe we see that.
You know, the numbers we have of total security forces, whether they are ISAF forces, coalition forces, Afghan National Army, police, the totals, when you're trying to -- I mean, to protect the 10 million Afghans, plus the 3 or so million that are in Kabul, given the numbers that we have here, they just don't work out totally -- you know, it's very difficult for us to be able to do that, given the numbers we have, given the terrain we have.
I think most of you have seen at -- if you haven't been there, you see what it looks like in our area. There are high mountains. We're at the southern part of -- part of the Hindu Kush. We've got villages at 9,000 feet with no roads, et cetera. And so yes, we do need more resources to be able to continue to do this in a timely manner.
Are we losing this war? Absolutely no way. Can the enemy win it? Absolutely no way. The Afghans won't allow -- and the Afghan National Army is well beyond that already.
Q (Off mike) -- follow up too quickly. I'm sorry. Are you winning?
GEN. SCHLOESSER: I'm sorry. I -- did you ask me if I'm winning?
MR. WHITMAN: (Off mike) -- yes, that was the follow-up question.
GEN. SCHLOESSER: Yeah, I'm sorry. I thought I'd answered it towards the end there. Maybe I got cut off.
What I said was -- is, at this point in time we need more resources to continue this endeavor in a timely fashion. We are not losing it, and the enemy cannot win, even given what we have here now.
But if we want to proceed onwards and make the improvements that I've laid out, yes, we're going to have to continue to do what I've asked and already said.
MR. WHITMAN: Let's go to Peter.
Q General, Peter Spiegel at the Los Angeles Times. Three of your predecessors have argued that there is a direct correlation between activity of the Pakistani military on their side of the border and decrease in attacks on your side of the border. We've seen in the last month or so that the 11th Corps of the Pakistani army started to do some -- a bit more activity in the FATA, and I'm curious whether you've seen any corollary -- any concomitant decrease in violence because of their activities on their side of the border.
GEN. SCHLOESSER: Yeah, Peter, we've been watching that very, very hard. What you're noting is the Pak mil operations that are ongoing up in the Bajaur area. We are really encouraged by those. As you know, right on the opposite side of that is Konar, and to the north of that is Nuristan. I just recently met up there with the governor of Konar, and we had a good discussion about this, as well as we completed our assessment yesterday in trying to figure out where we are across all of RC East. And so I talk to the commander that is on the ground up there every day.
What we think we're seeing is, we're beginning to see a lessening of significant activities.
In other words, we are beginning to see the results of the work that's being done by the Pak mil in the Bajaur area in reducing the level of violence in our area. There's a lot more to go, a lot more to see over the next couple of months.
As you know, the enemy brings in caches, they bring in arms and ammo and things like that and hide it in areas, and so they can operate for a while. But like I said, we're beginning to see, I think, successful results from the enemy -- from the operations done by the Pak mil in Bajaur. (Inaudible) -- will continue.
Q Just to follow up, are you able to quantify that for us in any way? When you met with us last time, you were able to put some numbers on the increase in violence since you've come on board. Has that leveled off? Has it decreased? Are there any, you know, numbers you can attach to that so far?
GEN. SCHLOESSER: I wouldn't want to do that at this point in time. You know, it's too early to tell. But I will tell you, though, is -- is that we recognizes it. We've been able to, like -- as I said, to be able to look at the reductions. You know, I could call it a battlefield low in that area. But again, it's only in that one area, so don't get sidetracked. It's, again, in the area of north -- upper northeastern Afghanistan, in Konar. And I will say that while I wouldn't call it yet significant, it's getting pretty close. I'm very happy for it. You see me smiling, I hope.
Q We do. Thank you, sir.
MR. WHITMAN: We only have a little bit more time. Let's go to David -- (off mike).
Q General, this is David Morgan with Reuters. Let met try again on attack specifics. I believe that when you some to us in June, you said that overall attacks were up 40 percent in the first five months of the year. Can you tell us what has happened since then in terms of an overall number for RC East? And also, as you prepare for this military campaign in the winter, how important is it to disrupt military activities across the border in Pakistan through attacks of the kind that we've seen this week?
GEN. SCHLOESSER: Okay. David, on your first question there, the numbers are about 20 to 30 percent at this point in time. Again, there's a lot of different complexities to it now that we're getting this late in the year. And the effect of Ramadan is one of the things that's kind of throwing us off.
So I'd like to stay with that. I could be more precise, but I will say 20 to 30 percent at this point in time. And as I've stated, the enemy plans on, I believe, continuing its significant activities, its attacks, throughout Ramadan -- its attacks against innocent Muslims, by the way.
As far as your second question, what I will say is that, you know, the operations that the Pakistanis have done, the Pak mil, up in Bajaur, you know, I really do encourage them to continue to do those elsewhere within the FATA, in other locations, in the Northwest Frontier Provinces, as it makes sense. I do believe that they see this enemy that I laid out for you and for Barbara there as a threat to them as well as to Afghanistan. And I do believe that they're doing their best to get after it. And that's all I probably would like to say on that topic.
Q Quickly, the 20 to 30 percent you're talking about, what period of time is that for?
Q Is it an increase?
Q And is that an increase?
GEN. SCHLOESSER: Yeah, David, that is from -- it's a total average from January of this year until now, and it's compared from this year to last year. In other words, it's a 20 to 30 percent increase overall from 2007 to 2008 up until now.
Is that clear? I didn't mean to be confusing.
MR. WHITMAN: Yes, that helps.
Let's go -- maybe we can get two more in. Let's see. We'll go to Al, if he doesn't ask a three-part question there -- (off mike).
Q General, it's Al Pessin from Voice of America. Can you shed any light on this reported attack by U.S. forces inside of Pakistan that involved actually forces on the ground? And can you explain to us under what conditions such attacks might be conducted?
GEN. SCHLOESSER: Yeah, I really don't have any comment, Al, on your question there.
MR. WHITMAN: (Inaudible) -- talking.
Q (Inaudible) -- go ahead.
MR. WHITMAN: Okay. Let's go ahead with Jeff.
Q Hi, General. Jeff with Stars and Stripes. I just wanted to see if I understood your answer to Tom's question correctly. When you said you are not losing, are you saying that you are winning?
Q (?) (Off mike) -- one more shot at it.
GEN. SCHLOESSER: I can see the columns tomorrow in all of the -- (inaudible). Look, you know, the truth is -- is that I -- I feel like, you know, we're making some steady progress. It's a slow win, I guess, is probably what we're accomplishing right on over here. It's not the way that I think both the Afghans, the international community and the American people would like to see us conduct this war. It will take longer the way we are doing it right now as far as the level of resources that we have. I'd like to speed that up.
So it's a slow win. I want to make it into a solid, strong win. It's going to take time, no matter what, but I'd like to do it in a more robust way.
MR. WHITMAN: General, sometimes they're hard to get through to. (Soft laughter.)
We'll finish up the last question with -- (off mike) -- ABC.
Q Hi, General. It's Luis Martinez with ABC. In trusting that you're anticipating a winter -- a large winter offensive or large winter activity on the part of the insurgents, the Taliban in your sector, does that mean pretty much the damage has been done by the cross-border activities so far this year and that they've been able to lay the groundwork for such activity through the wintertime?
GEN. SCHLOESSER: You know, what's -- no. The answer is not that there's been a huge amount of damage.
What we've seen is, is that this is more a battle of perceptions. There is a clear amount of violence ongoing on the ground, and that's a reality. But in this counterinsurgency, the enemy's trying to increase the perception of insecurity among the people.
I mean, this is literally, if you look at the area around Kabul, it's just a page out of the old storybook that was used during the Soviets. The mujaheddin tried to increase the perception that Kabul was basically surrounded and would be overtaken. You know, the only difference is that now -- well, one, it's not happening, but they are -- you know, they're doing things on the ground to try to make it look like that.
And then two, the very mujaheddin that did this are in some cases in positions of authority now and positions of influence, and I don't think that they're going to be cowed by the Taliban or Haqqani or HIG or other folks as they try to do the same sort of a deal.
But we are working against it, I mean, and we're going to try very hard to increase the freedom of movement on the roads and to reduce as much as possible any ability to do spectacular attacks. I'm sure there are some that will get through, but we're working on it all very, very hard.
Q One more?
MR. WHITMAN: General, I know I said that was the last one, but Jamie McIntyre's looking like I just took away his puppy. (Laughter.) Could you afford us just one last one?
GEN. SCHLOESSER: Sure. Anything for CNN.
Q General, it's Jamie McIntyre from CNN. Given that the indications that we're getting here at the Pentagon is that there won't be significant additional U.S. forces available to go to Afghanistan until early next year, could I just you to be a little more specific about your request for more resources? How many more troops do you need? When would you like to have them? When do you realistically expect to get them? And what else do you need besides troops? Do you need more helicopters, UAVs? What else do you need?
GEN. SCHLOESSER: Yeah, and that's, of course, a very precise question. And I'm not going to obfuscate, but let me deal with the answer in a more general way.
I've got a couple areas here, as I've mentioned, throughout RC East that I have very low numbers of troops in and therefore I'm not able to really get good effects on the ground. I can come in and I can clobber the enemy, but then I can't hold it and stay with the people. And so, you know, without getting into the real details, because this is still undergoing decision there back in Washington, I'll just tell you that, you know, the numbers are going to be a couple thousand, some number of a thousand, you know, a series of thousands there.
We're going to need some more help in some of the enablers, as you would, you know, think about, the ability to surveil, the ability to do reconnaissance; you know, a full-motion video, things of that nature that would allow us to be able to see what's happened on the battlefield and then get in there in a discriminate way.
Those will be important as we go about that.
None of this is a surprise to Washington, I do not believe. And again, I would just say that over time I am -- I am optimistic. You know, over the next several months I think we'll be just fine. But we need, you know, the additional resources to do the things I have kind of laid out now two or three times, and I hate to waste your time on it.
Did I answer your question there, Jamie?
Q Yes sir.
MR. WHITMAN: Well, General, you have been very generous with your time, and we appreciate it. It is extraordinarily helpful for us to hear from you and to get your perspective on operations there. So we thank you very much.
And just before we bring it to a close, let me just throw it back to you, in case you have any final thoughts.
GEN. SCHLOESSER: Well, you know, the only thing I'd say is -- is that, you know, I am humbled by being able to work with your sons and daughters, as well as those from other countries throughout this world, as well as the Afghans. We ought to be proud of them. And I'd -- I'll just end with the way I started. They know whey they are here. They remember 9/11. And they're getting after it each and every day. So be proud of them yourself.
Thanks an awful lot.
Q Thank you, sir.
MR. WHITMAN: Thanks, General, and thank you for supporting this program with your subordinate commanders, too. We appreciate it.
GEN. SCHLOESSER: They're more articulate than I am by far.
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