United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense

News Transcript

Press Operations Bookmark and Share


DoD News Briefing with David Sedney from the Pentagon

Presenters: Deputy Assistant Secretary For Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia, David Sedney
December 17, 2009
         MR. SEDNEY: Hi, everybody. I think a lot of you know me. But for those who don't, I'm David Sedney. I'm the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia.  
         And I'm here today and I hope you already have copies of our joint statement with the Pakistanis to discuss our defense relationship with Pakistan, particularly in light of the president's revised strategy and the recent -- most particularly our recently completed defense talks that Undersecretary of Defense Flournoy hosted last week, the Defense Consultative Group.  
         You'll hear me say DCG in my tendency to lapse into acronyms. And I want to -- if you have -- if you have a chance to read -- happy to ask -- answer any questions on the specifics.  
         Before getting into that however -- especially since I'm here on record, on camera -- I really want to stress, and this is the same thing that Undersecretary Flournoy stressed at the beginning of our talks, our heartfelt appreciation for, admiration for the courage of the Pakistani military and the Pakistani people as they face the very severe extremist threat and as they suffer.  
         They suffer as parents, they suffer as children. They suffer as brothers and sisters as they -- as both the military takes on the military task of confronting the extremists in military action but also because of the horrible nature of the terrorist/extremist threat that the Pakistanis face, that we face.  
         Children are killed in mosques. Women are killed in markets. This is a terrible thing. And I want to stress both our appreciation for the courage the Pakistanis show and our admiration for their courage.  
         As you know, two weeks ago, the president announced his revised strategy. And he reaffirmed the central importance of Pakistan in accomplishing our core goal of disrupting, defeating -- disrupting, dismantling and defeating al Qaeda.  
         To that end, President Obama has charged us with building a long- term strategic partnership with Pakistan based on mutual trust, mutual interest and mutual respect.  
        We didn't schedule these talks as a result of the president's speech; they'd been scheduled before. But they were very well-timed, because they enabled us to make some, I think, important first steps towards that strategic partnership. 
         The -- one of the cores of the president's message is that America will remain a strong supporter of Pakistan's security and prosperity -- and this is a quote from the president -- long after the guns have fallen silent, so that the great potential of its people can be unleashed.  
         So our partnership will focus on strengthening Pakistan's capacity now to target the extremists and to defeat the extremists that threaten them while also strengthening Pakistan's democracy, development and its security for the longer term.
         The supporting objective for this are -- and these aren't -- of course aren't all in the Department of Defense area -- are to help Pakistan address energy, water and related economic needs; support broader economic reform and long-term Pakistan -- and long-term Pakistan stability and security; and to help Pakistan build on its successes against militants and eliminate terrorist sanctuaries.
         For DOD, our focus now is of course on supporting Pakistan in its internal struggle against extremism and helping to build a long-term strategic partnership that looks beyond the current light to a Pakistan that plays an important regional role in security, that transcends the current operations.
         In our near-term focus, we look to respond to Pakistani needs, to the government and the military of Pakistan's needs in the area of counterterrorism and counterinsurgency capabilities. That's our near- term focus. And we do so because the struggle that the Pakistan military, the Pakistani people, the struggle that we're all in, is a necessary struggle. As President Obama said in his -- in his speech accepting the Nobel prize, evil exists in the world. A nonviolent movement could not have halted Hitler's armies. Negotiations can't convince al Qaeda's leaders to lay down their arms. And unfortunately, we face a similar -- we face a situation -- the Pakistani people face a similar situation in Pakistan.  
         In these talks, which were held between Pakistan Defense Secretary Syed Athar Ali and our undersecretary, my boss, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy, we brought    together many different parts of the Pentagon, from the Secretary of Defense's Office, Joint Staff, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, CENTCOM -- our Office of Defense representative/Pakistan, Admiral Mike LeFever was there, as well as colleagues from across the river, from the State Department, from the NSC, both the -- Ambassador Holbrooke's office, regional offices and others.
        And the reason I'm mentioning this is to show you -- to stress to you, as this was meant to stress to the Pakistanis, that this is a comprehensive effort. This is not just a military-focused effort that's focused on one military task and then -- and then the relationship stops. Rather than that, it's a whole-of-government approach that is aimed at addressing the immediate, but also looking forward to the longer-term, more strategic.
         We had some very frank and open discussions. And when you ask me some of your questions, some of them I'll be able to answer, and some of them won't -- I'll retreat to the phrase you've heard before: We had frank discussions, but we won't discuss the content of those discussions, because they're areas that are sensitive for both governments. But I'll try and be as open and transparent in response to your questions, and if I can't answer them, I'll just let you know -- because, of course, there are some sensitive areas that we discussed, which is important, because if we didn't discuss sensitive areas, we shouldn't be having these talks.  
         So with that, let me go ahead and go here and then there.
         Q     You know, you talk about the sort of cooperation as part of this. In the last few days, we've had a lot of reports about tensions: extra checks of diplomats, visas refused. What explains that tension?
         MR. SEDNEY: Well -- and, first of all, in terms of issues like visas and diplomats and stuff, we just had -- there was just a press availability that Chairman Mullen had and Ambassador Patterson had, and she was asked that question. I'll refer that to the people on the ground who do that.
         But certainly our relationship with Pakistan is complex. There has been a lot of ups and downs over the years, and there are a lot of areas where we still have a lot of open questions and where there are, for lack of a better word, issues that continue to fester from the past. That is -- while it's unfortunate, that's also understandable.  
         And there's tensions on both sides. There's things that Pakistan wants that we're not able to do, things that we want that Pakistan's not unable -- is not able to do. Sometimes our discussions with the -- with our Pakistani colleagues are very, very difficult. Other times they're very, very positive. I've been in my job for about eight-and-a-half months now, and what I've seen over that eight-and-a-    half months, including in these talks last week, including over the last month: an increasingly positive trend, both in the discussions and the results we're able to get.
             So we did discuss some of those issues. I'm not -- I won't get into all the details of the back and forth, but the minister of defense , Minister Athar Ali -- a very senior retired military officer, because the minister of defense is a retired military officer -- did take on some of these questions directly. He talked about some -- and there are lingering tensions. But we also believe that the kind of cooperation we've had recently is helping to address that.
         Q     Let me follow up very quickly.
         MR. SEDNEY: Sure.
         Q     I'll try to be a little more pointed.  
         MR. SEDNEY: Okay.
         Q     Is pushing -- is the Obama administration pushing Pakistan to help with the new sort of strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan? Is that -- has that inflamed sort of tensions over this? Are we asking them to do things they are unwilling to do, and are they upset as a result of that?
         MR. SEDNEY: No, I think it's rather exactly the opposite. The one area -- after the president's speech, the one area where there was a lot of questioning, as there was here, both in the press and in the various -- the sets of hearings that were held, was about the issue of the July 2011 date. It's an issue we discussed in the -- in the talks as well.  
         And we're -- important to stress that this, the July 2011, is not an end to U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. It's a transition point; it's an inflection point. It means that we're going to, on a conditions-based basis, start to transition -- on a conditions-based basis, start the transition to Afghan lead.  
         But the U.S. presence, the U.S. role in Afghanistan is going to continue. And that was a message that was very important to the Pakistanis, because they don't want us to leave Afghanistan, as we did in 1989 -- and the statements that I'm sure you all have heard from the secretary and others, that we are not going to do what happened in 1989 again; we're not going to abandon. We made that point. We discussed this issue with some great detail. They had a lot of questions.    And I think -- and I'll have to leave for the Pakistani side to describe their feelings -- but I believe -- my belief is that we addressed their concerns and they left understanding that the commitment to the United States in Afghanistan is for the long term, and it is -- and that is what Pakistan -- the Pakistanis tell us they want, is a stable Pakistan -- I mean, I'm sorry, a stable Afghanistan -- of course, a stable Pakistani as well.
             You were next, and then we'll go to you and then move on. Sorry.
         Q     General Petraeus and others have said that, you know, Pakistan is not -- or he's not willing to commit to going after the Afghan Taliban leadership in Pakistan. Was that discussed? And did you -- what are the prospects of that possibly changing?
         MR. SEDNEY: Well, it's interesting, because I have here the transcript of what General Petraeus said a few hours ago in Pakistan. And he was asked essentially the same question, and his response was that he didn't think he had said what you just said he said, in terms of willingness to go after.
         In fact, what General Petraeus said -- and he repeated what Secretary Gates has said again -- is that where we have specific information that we can share with Pakistan, we will. There are a lot of areas where we don't have specific enough information, and there are a lot of areas where we would certainly like to accomplish certain things, but we just don't have right now the capability. But we expect that as we share information with the Pakistanis in terms of specific actionable items, we look for cooperation from them in those areas.
         Q     And, sorry, could you just be a little bit -- can you shed a little bit more light on that? After these talks last week, are you more optimistic that Pakistan would be more willing, more ready to take direct action against the Afghan Taliban leadership, which they have not done so far?
         MR. SEDNEY: I think in terms of our common commitment to go after extremists of all kinds, that threaten all of us, that was a very clear take-away I had from the meetings. But that ability to go after depends on both capabilities, information, and all of that doesn't always exist at the same time. And that's the areas I probably won't get into, which is -- into any details on that. But we did discuss ways to cooperate.
         But again -- and I wouldn't say I was more confident coming out, because I think, while we had discussions in depth, I think I would assume that I was as confident coming out as I was going in. But my confidence was higher than the implication of your question, I think.
         So I guess here, then there. Then another here, then there. Q     I'm afraid I sort of have the same question, but perhaps from a different -- slightly different angle.
        The current offensive the Pakistanis have undertaken has been focused on South Waziristan, on the Mehsud tribe, which are clearly TTP, anti- Pakistan forces. Any discussion about broadening that either into North Waziristan, where the Haqqanis are, or into Baluchistan, where the Quetta shura is?
         MR. SEDNEY: In terms of the Pakistani current offensive in South Waziristan and what they're going to do next, again, Admiral Mullen was asked that question by some of your colleagues in Pakistan just a little while ago, and he, I think quite rightly, said that commenting on the Pakistanis' future -- Pakistan's future plans is up to -- is up to Pakistan.
         But what the Pakistani military has done over the last half a year or three-quarters of a year in going into Buner or going into Swat, going into South Waziristan, has been very hard for them. They've been successful, but this has been a tough effort. It's required them to put additional forces into the fight that they didn't have before. They've increased their military forces in that area.
         And it's not a simple, one-step, go in, attack and then leave. For example, in Swat, the Pakistani military remains there, and that continuing for, I guess for lack of a better word, that holding part, that transitioning to the building part of a counterinsurgency is something that is very difficult, as we know, from Iraq and from Afghanistan. And so they're doing that. So where they go next.
         But to go to your other question, maybe go a little further, there's different kinds of targets. As I mentioned, when we have exact information, exact targeting information, we will be providing it to Pakistan, and Secretary Gates is expecting their cooperation.
         But in South Waziristan what you had is a very different situation. You had a whole area. Your colleague David Brody, who was held captive in that area, wrote a series of great articles for his newspaper describing living in that area, being held captive in that area.
         The situation in Baluchistan and Quetta is much different, in terms of there aren't thousands of fighters there, areas where the Pakistani government has absolutely no control. It's a very different situation, much more diffuse. So it's a different strategic area.
         Q    Can I follow up just briefly? MR. SEDNEY: Yeah, sure.  
         Q    If the current status quo remains, in which the efforts, at least on the ground, are largely focused on South Waziristan, how does it affect U.S. efforts to stabilize Afghanistan?
         MR. SEDNEY: Well, first of all, there is no status quo. The changes over the last three-quarters of a year have really been important. And so I would say that -- and those developments continue to affect. And the effects are on both sides. 
        Our operations in Afghanistan affect Pakistan; Pakistan's -- Pakistan's operations in Pakistan focus on -- or have impacts on Afghanistan.  
         And over the last six months our coordination has increased, I would say, dramatically, in terms of on the ground. I'll leave that up to the people out there to describe in more detail. General Petraeus in his news conference referred to the really intensive discussions and much more regular contact that General McChrystal's been having. And the work we're doing at our border cooperation centers has really taken off. A year ago it was very nascent; now it's very active. We're really cooperating on a day-to-day, sometimes hour-to-hour basis.  
         And that has to be the case, because, as we've pointed out here, as the president's made clear, this border area of Afghanistan and Pakistan is the -- is really the epicenter of this threat. And that's what we need to go after.
         But unfortunately, none of us -- and given the topography, given the difficulty of the terrain, both the physical terrain and the -- and the -- and the socioeconomic terrain, no one has the ability to go in and occupy every inch of that land and eradicate things immediately. We have to go through -- we have to go at a -- at a -- at a step-by-step basis and be sure that, where we go, that we consolidate what we have before we -- before we do anything else. We have to really be concentrated and precise in our efforts.
         Q     On -- two -- kind of a two-part question. First off, is there an agreement between the United States and Pakistan to help Pakistan secure its nuclear weapons if such a need would arise? Then secondly, on the issue of drone technology, the Pakistanis have been seeking it, and my question is whether or not they may have -- whether or not they're getting it -- whether they might be able to get it from the United States, or if the U.S. is helping partner countries, allied countries, supply it to Pakistan.
         MR. SEDNEY: On the issue -- and not necessarily calling it drone technology, but really intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, yes, we are helping Pakistan improve its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, both through cooperative efforts that include the border-cooperation centers that I mentioned before, sharing of intelligence information, and also in the provision of additional equipment that the Pakistani government has asked for.    That wasn't one of the matters that we discussed. I won't go into the details of any specific systems, but we did discuss improvements in that area.
         And then in terms of your first session, in terms of the security of the Pakistani nuclear weapons: We've got a number of people from this building, from the rest of the U.S. government, on record as saying that we have -- of the confidence we have in the safety and security of the Pakistani nuclear weapons, and I'll leave it at that.
             I just -- all I'd be doing is repeating what other people have said before.  
         Q     On the idea of whether there's an agreement that should instability arise, and there was a need, is there an agreement between the U.S. and Pakistan that you guys would be able to go in and help secure those weapons, if such a need would arise?  
         MR. SEDNEY: That's really not the issue.  
         The issue here is the confidence that we have. And we have -- as we've said before at much higher levels than mine, we have confidence that the Pakistanis have the ability to maintain security of their nuclear weapons. And I'll just again rest with what's been said before.  
         And this is -- this is an area of course that's very sensitive, important to the government and to the people of Pakistan. And one reason that we -- I just want to be very clear.  
         We are saying that we have confidence in the government, the people and the military of Pakistan. And we've talked to them about this issue enough and in ways that give us that confidence.  
         Q     You mentioned, the Pakistanis want us to do things that we're not going to do, and we want the Pakistanis to do things that they're not willing to do. What are these things?  
         MR. SEDNEY: I'm not going to go into all of them, as I said. We talked about sensitive issues. But broadly speaking people always want more. And we have limits in terms of our appropriations. Some things we can't do, because we don't have the appropriated money from Congress. We often ask for more money from Congress than the Congress gives us.  
         So there are areas, and we're discussing those, budget areas right now where we ask for more and we get less. And then we have to settle for fitting demands for various weapons systems into a smaller pot because we just don't have the money.  
         So that's probably the biggest area where we have that. And that's of course not unique to Pakistan. It's the case in almost every country where we have a security relationship.   
Q     And why wasn't Secretary Gates at this meeting himself, as opposed to Undersecretary Flournoy?  
         MR. SEDNEY: Undersecretary Flournoy was at this meeting, because that's the level that it's been held and scheduled to be held for the last couple times. The first round of this was held back I think in 2002. Secretary Rumsfeld did attend that. But that was -- that was really a one-time thing.  
        What we're looking for is a -- is a sustained strategic partnership, and having these talks at the undersecretary level with the Pakistani minister of defense counterpart is exactly the level that we can sustain. We want to make sure that we can have regular meetings.  
         We -- but we're actually looking to have them on a yearly or more frequent basis in the future. It's been a three-year gap. One of the problems when you try and tie everything to just the availability of one high-level person is that it's -- that it's difficult to do that. But in this case, the commitment of Undersecretary Flournoy to these talks and to their future is a -- is a real sign of progress in our relationship.
         And then you.
         Q     Yeah. Can I go back to drones a minute? Two-part question on drones: First, I know it's not in your habit to do so, but can you confirm what Pakistani intelligence officials are telling the wires this morning, that there were two U.S. drone strikes in the tribal areas and that --
         MR. SEDNEY: You really want me to try and make news, don't you? (Laughter.)
         Q     And the second question is, do -- does the U.S. have any evidence that insurgent groups in Pakistan or Afghanistan have managed to hack into the drone command-and-control systems, as The Wall Street Journal told us this morning they had in southern Iraq?  
         MR. SEDNEY: In terms of your first question, I'll say exactly what you would expect: I'm not going to comment on matters of intelligence, including Pakistani intelligence, in this case. We've gone around that a lot, and I won't have anything new for you or newsworthy on that.
         On the second issue, on issues of Iraq and technical issues, that's not part of my portfolio; that's not part of what I discussed. I wasn't prepared. I have absolutely no information about that. And I -- so I apologize; I can't answer the question. But I just don't -- you have the wrong person for that one.  
         Q     But the question's about Afghanistan and Pakistan, did it happen -- if there's any evidence that it happened in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as happened in Iraq -- drones there. MR. SEDNEY: Okay. Well, I think what I said is, I had absolutely no information on that subject. I do do Afghanistan and Pakistan, so I have no information or knowledge on that subject, whether what happened in Iraq or if it happened in Afghanistan or Pakistan. You can maybe draw a further conclusion from that if you want.
         Q     So --
         MR. SEDNEY: I'm sorry. I promised her, then you. You -- everybody -- I'll answer every question.  
         Q     Thank you. This may fall in the same camp that you don't want to talk about, but I'm curious, with allegations of corruption that we're reading about in Pakistan, what kind of challenges does that put on the success of this kind of effort that we're trying to forge and foster, and -- as well as getting the support of the American people to fund this additional support?
             MR. SEDNEY: Well, corruption is a problem in just about every society that I've ever been in, including, unfortunately, our own. In terms of Pakistan, yes, that's -- corruption's been a problem. But in terms of our assistance efforts, I can assure you that we look very carefully at it; our inspector generals look very carefully at it. And our focus is very strong on ensuring that every bit of assistance, every bit of training is used exactly as it's intended. And from everything I've seen directly, and from reports I've read from our inspector general, and from -- and reports from the field, I think we do an exceptionally good job of delivering the very best value for the American taxpayers' dollars in assistance to Pakistan.
         Q     Thank you, sir. As far as Afghanistan is concerned, I have been at many, many think-tank meetings. And what they are saying is that, including the ambassador of Afghanistan to the U.S., that U.S. has to really engage with the people of Afghanistan in order to overcome this problem as far as terrorism and al Qaeda and Taliban.
         And also, in the same time, what Pakistanis are saying: that if you push them too much, that -- to go after the Talibans in Pakistan, then they cross the border, go into Afghanistan. Then if you go back in Afghanistan, they come back to Pakistan. So what is the future going to be happening?
         MR. SEDNEY: Well, if I understood your first question, you were talking about the support of the people in Afghanistan, and you were quoting the -- my friend, the Afghan ambassador. And he's -- he is, of course, absolutely right. Ambassador Jawad is absolutely right that the -- that the support of the people is key to success in Afghanistan.  
         And the population-centric strategy that General McChrystal has laid out is exactly what's needed. And securing the centers of population, securing the lines of communications, securing areas of production, as the president laid out in his speech, is exactly what we need to do. And the changes that we've made in the way we're fighting in Afghanistan, in the way we're acting in Afghanistan, in the way we're -- we are delivering assistance in Afghanistan, I think we're already starting to have some effects there.
             In terms of the cross-border issue that you mentioned, here I'll take refuge again in quoting back General Petraeus to all of you. General Petraeus was asked the same question a few hours ago. And he said, yes, that is an issue.  
         And the key to that is the cooperation that we're having more and more of, on both the Afghan and Pakistan sides of the border. And of course, this is both the Pakistani military, the Afghan military and international forces.  
         But the notification of operations, being able to hand off things when they need to be handed off, there's really I think a better and better story there, more and more cooperation that's been more effective.  
         Q     (Off mike.) After the prime minister of India's visit to the U.S., anything changed between India and the U.S., as far as military to military or also cooperation on Afghanistan, sir?  
         MR. SEDNEY: My colleague, the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for South Asia, Bob Scher, who does military -- who looks over the military relationship between the United States and India, would be the one to ask that for. And I'll ask our people from the Pentagon Press Office just to get in touch with you, to follow up on that question.  
         Q     On the cooperation issue, I wonder if you can just get a little more specific of what that means. You mention that in the -- there were near-term needs the Pakistanis wanted. And you said border cooperation and ISR.  
         Is there anything else beyond that especially, you know, military-to-military relations with officers, with training? You know, what more than you've said on -- 
         MR. SEDNEY: Well, one area where I think we and the Pakistanis would like to do a lot more is in the area of military exchange and training. I think all of you have heard from Admiral Mullen and others about the 12-year gap that we have, that was created because of our -- because of our sanctions on Pakistan in the past.  
         We are increasing I think. I'd be happy to get back to you with the exact figure. But I think it's a fourfold increase in international military exchange funding with Pakistan in the last year. I personally would like to see about a tenfold increase.    Every opportunity we have and we're very fortunate, it's not just the Department of Defense. There are private organizations that also are helping to increase the exchanges between the United States and Pakistan, particularly between our militaries. But that's a very important area. And I think both sides -- in fact, I know both sides would like to increase that to the maximum possible.  
        But again, we can't -- we don't always -- we never have all the resources we want for something like --
         Q     What does that all -- 
         MR. SEDNEY: -- training -- I'm sorry. Go ahead.
         Q     Just to follow up, so like, again, what -- so what has happened already, I mean, so -- by the end of this year, given all the comments on the previous year, are Pakistani officers coming into the U.S. and being trained or being elsewhere -- are American officers training? What's going on?
         MR. SEDNEY: We have Pakistani officers coming and being trained, and what I can do is take the question in terms of the numbers of Pakistani officers coming to us and being trained, and U.S. military going to Pakistan and training Pakistanis there, and I'm not sure if I can give you the exact number, but I can give you a scale of that as well. I just don't have that -- those numbers on the tip of my head -- or tip of my tongue, rather.
         Q     The communique said that you're nearly doubling the number of events. What does that mean? Training and equipping  events. What are "events"?
         MR. SEDNEY: An event can be everything from a group of mid-level Pakistani officers coming to the -- one of our military training institutes for a two-week course to a group of Special Forces officers going to Pakistan to do training. It can be a -- we have a lot of military equipment. It can be of -- it can be a discussion of how to use that military equipment better. There's a whole range of things. But we -- we're -- in the Department of Defense we like to count things, so we count events.
         Q     Can you count them for us, then? What -- how much equipment, how many trainers, when, where, who?  
         MR. SEDNEY: I can count the amount of events. And as I said, I don't have the number of exchanges, but we'll take that and get back to you on that.
         Okay. Q     In counterterrorism capabilities, this year the United States has delivered many, many scores of night vision goggles, body armor. Pakistan pilots have flown the -- have done closer support training in F-16s for night attack. To what extent is all that playing out their current offensive? In the sense of -- to the extent U.S. aid is given to date, what do they like? What do they want in the future in terms of new FMS sales, potentially?
         MR. SEDNEY: Yeah. Those capabilities, I believe, have been a big -- a big assistance to the Pakistani military in the operations they've already been doing this year. You mentioned F-16s, and the role that the F-16s have been playing in the counterinsurgency has grown as a result of the increased training and increased capabilities that the Pakistanis have. Their ability to target is much more precise, which of course cuts down on collateral damage, additional casualties, which is important when you're carrying out a counterinsurgency effort. So yes, there have been real progress.  
         However, I'd hesitate to be too detailed in that, because that's really the Pakistanis who should be telling you that, rather than me speaking for them. But from what they tell us and from what we hear from our people who work closely with the Pakistanis, that there has been real significant progress over the last year that has been brought about primarily by the improvements the Pakistanis have done themselves, assisted by what we have done.
         But I want to stress that the improvements that Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen have talked about in the Pakistani -- the performance of Pakistani military in these -- in the areas comes primarily through what the Pakistanis have done themselves, and what we do has been to assist.
         And if you're looking for a little more specifics, maybe we'll see if we can set up something for you with people who are more intimately familiar with the details of operations.
         Q     I'm asking  F-16s in particular -- because you -- you've been in hearings where you were grilled over the coals about why are you selling an airplane for counterinsurgency, and you -- you and -- (inaudible) -- made the case. Just -- the point is just that -- are they doing night attacks now with F-16s? That was one of the markers of improvement for the Pakistan military that you were laying out; that they'd have these planes, they'd be able to do night attack -- precision night attack on insurgents.
         MR. SEDNEY: Yes.  
         Q     Are they able to do that now?
         MR. SEDNEY: In terms of whether they're able to do that right now, no, I'm going to have to defer on that and I'll get back to you with whether I can answer that question, because -- but are they acquiring that capability? Yes.    And certainly in terms of their overall use of the F-16s -- and I want to be careful, because if you talk too much about operational details, that can tell the other side what you're -- what you're doing. Of course they may know from what they feel, but they may not know exactly what it is.
         But certainly we are -- we are in the process of delivering that capability. And the capabilities we already have helped in their -- in their precision, and they've been using the F-16 very extensively -- and have gone back and talked to some of the people on the Hill about this been able to give them much more detail.
         MODERATOR: We've got time for a last question, guys.
         MR. SEDNEY:  Okay. Is there anybody who hasn't asked a question, I haven't gotten to, or -- okay. (Cross talk.)
         Q     Referring to this matter of the tensions very quickly, for our last question, I mean, Pakistan obviously is a very important logistics hub for our effort in Afghanistan. Is there the same kind of problems that we've seen on the diplomatic -- and complicating the delivery of supplies to the Afghan effort, or is there concern that that could become a problem, given the political instability in Pakistan now?
         MR. SEDNEY: Our -- the lines of communication, our lines of supply through Pakistan of course are vital to our success in Afghanistan. And we are highly appreciative of what the Pakistani government, the Pakistani military and the Pakistani commercial contractors who are part of moving those supplies through -- in fact, over the last year, as we added 33,000 troops in Afghanistan, the amounts that we've taken through Pakistan have increased. The reliability and the -- the reliability has increased in terms of timeliness, and the percentage of loss has actually gone down. So -- in fact the actual performance, up to, including the last week or so, has been excellent.  
         And again, going back to the point I made before about the Pakistani concerns about Afghanistan, they weren't about that we shouldn't be in Afghanistan. They were whether -- they were how committed we are to Afghanistan in the long term. So we have a very strong common interest in success in Afghanistan, and those line supplies are a concrete example of that.
         Thank you all very much.
         Q     Thank you. 

Additional Links

Stay Connected