DoD News Briefing with Gen. James L. Jones
MR. WHITMAN: Good morning and welcome. It's my pleasure to be able to introduce our briefer today, which is not -- known probably to all of you and doesn't need much of an introduction. But General Jones, James L. Jones, is the commander of U.S.-European Command and the NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe. He assumed those commands in January 2003, and of course, he previously served in this building as the 32nd commandant of the Marine Corps. He is kind enough to give us some time today to give you an update on NATO transformation, NATO operations, EUCOM theater security cooperation, and I'm sure some of the questions and issues that you might have for him too.
And without anything further, General Jones.
GEN. JONES: Thank you. I appreciate it.
Good morning. It's great to see all of you again, and thanks for taking the time to be here today. It's a great pleasure. I'd like to start out, if I may, by just making a few comments about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and then EUCOM, perhaps at the end.
I'd start out by saying that 2006 is perhaps the most important year in the history of the North Atlantic Organization since its -- with the possible exception being the day that it was established. But it certainly is a pivotal year for what NATO is going to become and has the potential to become in this next 15 or 20 years, I think.
It's important because there are number of extremely important milestones that are going to take place between now and November, at the end of the year, which will be the NATO summit attended by 26 heads of state in Riga, Latvia, which will be the culmination of this very important year.
As you know in the Prague summit of 2002, NATO embarked on transformation -- transformation and depth of its military capacity. Among the things that were decided in 2002 were to expand the nation by -- expand the alliance by seven nations, which was achieved in 2004.
It also agreed to establish the NATO Response Force.
It also agreed to transform the NATO command structure to disestablish Supreme Allied Command Atlantic, for example, and replace it with Allied Command Transformation.
It also agreed to the -- what we call the Prague Capability Commitments, which is to list some of the major shortfalls that we had in the capabilities of the alliance and work on that over the next 10 years to try to bring things like strategic lift, for example, into the alliance.
And so with that, for the last three years or so, we've been working on implementing the guidance of the Prague summit, and I think we've been doing quite well, and I'll be talking about that a little bit.
But this year, a lot of those things that were scripted in 2002 are coming to fruition, and that's why 2006 is so important.
In 2006, NATO will expand its operation in Afghanistan to the southern sector and the eastern sector of the country, which means that by that the end of the year -- certainly by the time the Prague [Riga] summit rolls around -- that Afghanistan could be a NATO mission. As a matter of fact, I think Afghanistan will be a NATO mission by that time.
The next phase of course is to take over what we call Stage Three. Stage Three in Afghanistan is the southern area. It will be -- we are shooting to do this by July. It will be composed of troops from the United Kingdom, Canada, Holland, Australia and Romania and a very small amount from the United States, but eventually the United States will be the lead nation in what we call Stage Four of the mission.
So -- but this is a fundamental change in the way the alliance does business. It is arguably NATO's most ambitious operation, perhaps in its history, certainly a strategic distance that is very impressive.
And we'll have essentially 36 nations -- 26 from the alliance and another 10 that are non-members of the alliance, but working together to bring peace, stability, reconstruction to Afghanistan.
So that's an extremely important milestone.
The second one that's extremely important is the NATO Response Force. Born in the Prague Summit of 2002, it is to reach full operational capability by 1 October of this year. And in my job as the NATO commander, I'm the one who is responsible for declaring it fully operational capable or not. The reason this is important is because this is the first time in the alliance that we've had a -- roughly a 25,000-man force composed of soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and special operations working under one single command. It is designed to be NATO's most responsive force. The lead nations are supposed to be on their way within five working days after receipt of mission. So you can see that that's a fairly ambitious timeline. And it's actually just completed its first major mission in support of Pakistan, where the NATO Response Force, in part, was deployed to provide relief to the victims of that very terrible earthquake, and just completed a four-month mission.
The very important aspect of the NATO Response Force is that it is a force that can be task-organized and tailored to meet the specifics of each mission, ranging from disaster relief and humanitarian operations all the way to the higher end of things -- forcible entry operations. So there's a range and a mission set that the NATO Response Force participants have to be certified and trained to certain standards. So it is the place in the alliance where transformation is really the most visible. It's also a place where we can experiment and try different things. One of the key experiments that are going on in the alliance right now is how do we pay for our operations and how do we fund these operations. So you'll hear things like "common funding" being discussed during the course of the year as the alliance searches for new ways to be flexible and to be adaptable to meet the new realities of the new NATO.
I think one of the things that -- one of my conclusions, after three years working in NATO, is that most of our citizens on both sides of the Atlantic fully understand what NATO was in the 20th century -- the common defense, the clearly linear disposition of forces in a static, defensive position; essentially a reactive alliance waiting for something to happen, fortunately that never did happen. But that was really both the position and the mentality of the alliance.
In the 21st century, I think it's very important that our citizens on both sides of the Atlantic understand that the new NATO is a completely different organization in terms of its capabilities and its disposition.
I might also say that transformation is about the physical end of things, certainly how you use your soldiers, your sailors, airmen, Marines and their equipment; but it's also a cultural transformation, a mind-set, if you will, a philosophical shift for the 21st century that says that the new NATO is going to be more proactive, more involved at greater strategic distances than it was in the past, and has the capacity and the will of the member nations to be involved, to look at new missions and new ways in which the alliance can be utilized. And this is vastly different than the reactive, static, defensive alliance that was successful during the Cold War.
Just by way of reminder, I might show you the slide about NATO in 1999 and what it looked like, and the membership that was envisaged after 1999, and then NATO today, which is an alliance of 26 countries, with 20 partner nations. So essentially you have 46 countries working together to achieve interoperable standards, a common view of the security requirements that are out there.
And I would say to you also that the alliance is a vibrant and alive organization, because there are many more countries that are waiting to join NATO. I know of no country that's waiting to leave NATO.
We just joined -- by way of interest, two Russian warships in the Mediterranean joined Operation Active Endeavor, which was a NATO Article V maritime counterterrorism mission, has been fully joined by the Russian navy this month, and are interoperable and part of the operation. So that's -- I don't know how many of you thought you'd ever see a day like that. I certainly didn't think that I would. But this is a sign of the times, of the expansion of NATO and the expansion of people in other countries who wish to have a formal relationship with NATO.
So at 26 today -- and who knows what it'll be 10 years from now -- the next round of enlargement for NATO could come as early as 2008. This will be for heads of state to decide at Riga at the end of the year. But the idea of expansion is definitely one that is on people's minds, because there -- many countries have said, "We want to join NATO." And beyond that, I think there are other countries who simply want to have a formal relationship with NATO, countries like Australia, South Korea, Japan. Obviously Afghanistan has a relationship with us now, but perhaps a more formal relationship might come in the future.
So the new way of thinking of NATO is certainly different from what we thought about it in the past.
Let me just show you a picture of roughly -- very, very quickly -- how NATO's -- what kind of operations we're in today.
We're involved on three continents with roughly about 30,000 troops deployed.
Starting with the Baltics in the North, we -- when they joined the alliance in 2004, of course, we took on the responsibility of air policing in the Baltics, and we have regular rotations going there for -- to enforce that particular mission.
In Kosovo, under KFOR, we have about 16,000 NATO troops still on the ground in Kosovo during this very important time.
We have operation Active Endeavor that I just mentioned -- was joined by two Russian warships this month.
We have a small mission in Darfur in support of the African Union. Essentially, this is a two-pronged mission: one is to airlift battalions into the Sudan, and the other is to assist the African Union military components with some capacity building, help them to understand how you do expeditionary operations, expeditionary logistics, command and control and things that will enable them to better train their forces and be more successful in their deployments.
NTM-I is NATO's contribution to Iraq. There at a camp called Ar Rustamiyah we train 1,000 young Iraqi soldiers to become officers. We also have a responsibility of training outside of Iraq, and our NATO countries are conducting capacity building-type training for the emerging Iraqi army.
And the third component of our mission is to try to provide as much equipment to the new Iraqi army because they're using Eastern European-type of equipment, and we recently delivered over 170 T-72 tanks from Hungary in working condition to the emerging Iraqi army.
So it's that kind of mission that NATO is involved in.
And I come back around to ISAF. Of course, in ISAF, we know that this is going to be a major expansion for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. At the end of the day, when ISAF takes over in Afghanistan, it will be roughly a 21,000-man force from 36 different nations.
And so that's to give you a little bit of a flavor of what's going on in the alliance with the operations and to underscore the fact that today's NATO is dramatically different from what it was in the past, and it's changing virtually before our eyes; and considering how it can be more useful in terms of providing common security at strategic distances for the alliance and for the -- it's a better way to take on the -- for a better way to take on the challenges that face us.
You will hear conversations in Europe now about energy security, the protection of critical infrastructures. You will see a lot of conferences about -- on those particular subjects as the alliance takes on the idea of how it can be more useful in terms of the mission sets that we take on.
So this is a -- an exciting time. It's a pivotal time. And we -- as we go down this year from the -- to the road to Riga, I think the -- at the end of the year, you will see a fairly dramatic restatement, if you will, a new identity for this grand old alliance that is certainly alive, certainly very vibrant and is trying to make itself as relevant as it possibly can in this new century.
So I think I'll stop there right now, and I'd be happy to answer any of your questions.
Q General, you said that ISAF is probably going to be NATO's most ambitious mission, and yet you see stories now that the Taliban are -- they're repeatedly described as resurgent. Are they in fact resurgent? And if it's true, this will become more than just a mop-up operation, and one wonders if parliaments in Europe will stand long for having their troops killed, even small numbers, at the hands of the Taliban. Are the Taliban insurgent? And if so, is it because the Afghan government is -- isn't providing the protection it should, or are the numbers growing or what?
GEN. JONES: Thank you.
My take on the situation in Afghanistan is that the Taliban and al Qaeda are not in a position to where they can restart an insurgency of any size and major scope. From my standpoint -- and I've been going to Afghanistan about once every six weeks now for almost two- and-a-half years -- from my standpoint, the way to understand the level of violence in Afghanistan is to not limit it to the rather simple discussion of the Taliban and al Qaeda. It's more complex than that. Afghanistan is on the way to recovery, but is also fighting some internal demons, and that is -- one is certainly the narcotics culture and the dependence of the economy on narcotics, which, from my standpoint, is probably the most serious problem facing the restructuring and the new path that Afghanistan would like to go on.
Secondly, there's a fair amount of corruption, and the rule of law has not taken place everywhere in the country that it -- we hope it will. And so there's a significant amount of just criminality in the country as well. It's a -- it can be a fairly violent place at times. But I would not discount the criminal element from simply their role in the social fabric, because it is there.
And then you have the remnants of al Qaeda and the Taliban, which are still there in pockets. But I don't think that it's accurate to portray every instance of violence as an indication that insurgency is coming back.
There is no question about the fact that statistically the numbers of the attacks have gone up, but we have to consider that in relation to the baseline, which was quite low. So when someone says there's a 20 percent increase in violence, and you only had 10 attacks, a 20 percent increase is statistically not very significant. But we're talking about those kinds of numbers. And so I think that we're going to see in the springtime -- I think you're going to see more testing, more attacks. I think it's fair to say that NATO, when it comes into the southern part, will be tested.
But I want to make a strong statement to say that the nations that are coming into what we call Stage 3, which is the southern part of Afghanistan, are coming in without any caveats or restrictions; that we will have thousands more troops on the ground than ever before in southern Afghanistan and more military capability than ever before.
And so I think -- and I think that if there is a test, that the outcome is going to be swift and decisive. And then I think that you'll see that the terrorists or whoever it is that's doing it will take their business elsewhere.
One of the reasons that this is happening is because the resurgent Afghan National Army is able to go more places than ever before. So the hiding places and the areas that were previously off- limits are now not off-limits. There are military forces going there, security forces going there, and that's causing another little bit in -- of uptick in violence.
But I'm confident about the future.
Q General, regarding Darfur, NATO has a small mission in there now. Can you tell us about what kind of planning is under way for possible expansion of NATO's mission in Darfur? And what might the possible U.S. role be in that extended mission?
GEN. JONES: Well, the nature of the mission now is of course is to do capacity building and to do -- and to help the second trooplift, and that's going on.
There is obviously a lot of discussion going on about the future, and I might say that NATO has received no request and no mission from the United Nations or from the African Union itself -- which is a precondition for NATO to do anything -- and so where we are, Jamie, right now is to simply -- in a waiting mode to see how NATO might be tasked and what it is it might be able to do in the future.
I know there's a lot of interest. There's discussion between nations. But it hasn't metastasized to the point that the alliance has said to the military component that I head, "Give us your military advice on how to do X, Y or Z," and that hasn't come down yet.
Q Well, are you doing contingency planning for some of the options that have been discussed at all?
GEN. JONES: Well, we always do -- any military headquarters always does pre-military planning -- you know, what more could we do if we're asked, and so on and so forth? And that goes on apace on any operation that we're involved in.
But I don't have -- I can't give you any better answer than I've just given you because I have no tasking to do anything at this point.
Q Just one more follow-up: given that NATO's going to have a major expansion in Afghanistan and you're still short of troops for the NATO Rapid Reaction Force that you're building, does NATO have the capability to do anything on a large scale in Darfur, given the other commitments that we saw on the map, that you could assess?
GEN. JONES: You know, I've discovered that NATO has as much capacity as it wants to. It's compromised of 26 wealthy nations whose GDP, if you add it all up together, is roughly pretty close to ours, and we have quite a few people in uniform in 26 different countries.
So when NATO decides to do something and it really wants to do something, it'll generally come together. But you have to go through that process of getting the political will to instruct the military component to give military advice.
Q In your opening statement, you said, I think, that -- you said that by November, Afghanistan would be a NATO mission. I'm wondering if you can explain what you meant by that, whether that indicates that NATO would take over for the United States as the lead on security --
GEN. JONES: Let me clarify that. You see the map off to the left there -- if you look at NATO's engagement -- it started in the North, and that was under -- with Germany as the lead nation, and then we expanded to the western area, with Italy and Spain as the two lead nations there.
And we're now about to expand in the southern area, the green area, will be the five nations that I mentioned to you earlier. And then at some point after that, in the orange sector, the amber section, Stage 4, in the east, was the -- is -- will be the U.S.-led sector of the country.
So whereas right now if I drew a line right down half the country, you would have -- today you have NATO in the north and the U.S.-led coalition in the south. And what's going to happen, when country -- when the nations decided to do this or everyone is agreed, the two missions will come together, with one important difference. The U.S.-led coalition that wants to continue the counterterrorist mission -- that is, the offensive -- more offensive military mission -- will do so, continue to do so, under a special arrangement under the U.S. Central Command, while the rest of the nations of ISAF will continue to do their, I would say, anti-terrorism defensive nation- building mission under ISAF.
But essentially, the officer that conducts the security mission writ large will have two hats, one working for General Abizaid, in the more offensive mission, and the other one working for me as the strategic commander in the rest of the mission. That's the only distinction. But for all intents and purposes it'll be a -- it'll be one headquarters. It will have a unity of effort and will just have that slight little difference about the military forces and how they're used.
Q In other words, like General Eikenberry today, if he were that person, he would be reporting to you?
GEN. JONES: No, actually, he would be reporting to John Abizaid, because he would be running the -- he would be directing the more offensive counterterrorist piece of the mission. And that's been agreed to by 26 countries. So this is not --
Q Someone else would be reporting to you, you mean, as the ISAF -- (off mike)?
GEN. JONES: Well, there would be a U.S. -- there will be a U.S. major general who will be in charge of security for Afghanistan, writ large. He will have two hats. On -- in his NATO hat, he would be working for the NATO commander, and he will be in charge of security writ large. In his CENTCOM hat, he will be working for General Abizaid, and he will be directing the more offensive operations, for instance, along the border or wherever you need to go after -- to continue the search for bin Laden and those things. So that's the only slight distinction, but it will be a much more cohesive effort, and we will essentially have one headquarters.
Q General, can you talk a little bit more about what you call the most serious problem, narcotics? How does NATO get its arms around the problem? And what -- how much are we talking for replacement crops, other economic aid, and how many years do you expect it to go on for?
GEN. JONES: Well, first of all, I think the important thing that I think that everybody understands with Afghanistan is the reality of the problem and the validity of the problem. As you know, the -- under the G-8 nations, the lead nation for the counternarcotics operation is the United Kingdom. But let me be very clear that that is not a British problem by themselves. It's going to take concerted action on the part of the international community to begin to tackle this problem.
NATO's role in it is not to be an active participant, for example, in destroying crops and eradication. NATO does have a responsibility to be supportive and helpful, but in the more passive areas -- in other words, the intelligence gathering, oversight, overwatch, security. It is in our interest that this problem -- in our collective interest that this problem be solved.
But it's going to be solved by military and -- it's going to be solved with the Afghan face on it, which is extremely important. President Karzai is going to be -- and his government will be the ones who will have the most visible input into this. But it will have to be supported by the family of nations. And it will include a broad- based approach, from eradication to crop substitution, and also, in my judgment, it will have to include a better understanding of how we restrict the export of these drugs, which are all headed for Europe. Ninety percent of the harvest in Afghanistan is bought on the streets of Europe and translated back into supporting terrorist activities in Europe.
So there's a real reason that we should all be concerned about this.
Q Did they come up with a dollar estimate on how much this is going to cost?
GEN. JONES: If they have, I don't know what it is, but it is a long-term proposition. This is not something that's going to be resolved overnight, but it absolutely -- we absolutely have to be successful at weaning this economy off of the narcotics trade.
Q General, wonder if you could -- can I get back to the other point is, how do you see the expansion of NATO in Afghanistan having an impact on the number of U.S. troops' contribution there? It's now, I think, 20 -- I don't know what the number is right now -- but I mean, when would it be reduced, do you think, as you see it?
GEN. JONES: The issue of troop adjustments is very much a national issue, and it's something that I, as a NATO commander, should leave to each nation to basically announce what it's going to be, whether it's in Kosovo or whether it's in Afghanistan. The end state of our expansion, including the United States, will be somewhere around 21,000, and we have about 9,000 NATO troops there now. So you can see an increase of about 11,000 or so -- 12,000, but that will include the United States in the roll-up of all of the stages.
So -- but I think those things are being decided virtually as we speak in capitals as to how they -- how nations are going to -- what their totals are going to be, and so I'd prefer to leave that up to each nation to tell you exactly.
Q Does that include the -- I mean, in other words --
GEN. JONES: The 21,000, roughly, end state will be NATO, but including the U.S.
Q Do you know roughly --
GEN. JONES: I don't have it off the top of my head.
Q General, how far short is NATO still of the 25,000 troops envisioned for the response force, you know, ahead of October 1? And are you now any more certain than you have been recently that you'll come up with a sufficient number of troops in time?
GEN. JONES: The NATO response force has gone through a number of milestones thus far and met each one, but this one is a little bit more at risk than I would like, to be perfectly honest and in generating the force required for what we call NRF-7, which is the 7th rotation of the NRF. These rotations are six months in duration. We generate the NRF forces for two years per -- for force generation conference, so we're looking for NRF-7, 8, 9 and 10 right now. NRF-7 is pivotal because this is the one that is going to be in existence when 1 October rolls around, and that's the date of full operational certification.
And we have not -- at this point, we have not generated the force in sufficient numbers for me to be comfortable with standing up here and saying we will be successful. I think we have to -- we have more work to do. We are working with each nation to make sure they understand that the -- NATO's most transformational military component has got to be resourced, and I'm hopeful that we'll get there. But it -- as of right now, if this were 1 October today, I would not be standing here saying that we're fully operational capable.
Q Just to briefly follow up -- how many troops do you have, and how --
GEN. JONES: I understand that -- I understand what you want me to say, but it's not only -- it's not only troops, but it's capacity, also.
So let me just leave it -- let me answer it this way -- we have generated about 75 percent of the requirement, so we're about 25 percent short.
Q General Jones, could you straighten us out a little bit more on numbers in Afghanistan? I don't want to leave here thinking that there's going to be some giant cut in U.S. forces. There's about 20,000 U.S. forces now in Afghanistan. Is that right?
GEN. JONES: I think so, yeah.
Q And about 10,000 NATO?
GEN. JONES: Mm-hmm.
Q And you're talking about going up to about 21,000 NATO?
GEN. JONES: Mm-hmm.
Q What does that mean for U.S. forces? That you're going to be able to send half of them home and they'll make up the rest with NATO? And also, could you talk about what Stage Four involves for U.S. forces? When you -- in your opening statement, in sounded to be like a reduction of U.S. forces to give a breather, and then have a new influx in Stage Four.
GEN. JONES: The -- at the end of the day when NATO takes on the Stage Four -- actually, the -- I neglected to mentioned this, also -- a Capital Region focus, also, which is going to be secured by Italy, Turkey and France, those three countries. So there's an enormous amount of will in the alliance right now to do this, and I think that's something that I need to say.
We did go through a little delay with -- while the Dutch parliament decided what it wished to do, and subsequently, the Dutch parliament voted and spoke and really overwhelmingly endorsed the mission, so that was certainly a good thing.
And so at the end of the day, whenever Stage Four and the Capital Region come on -- come together -- which could be by the summit, we will have achieved our mission, the mission that was conceived back in February of 2004 with the same map. So it will have taken from 2004 to now to do all of this.
With regard to the final end state of what U.S. forces are, that'll be a U.S. decision. The U.S. can decide to do what it wants. We have a minimum military requirement that I'm satisfied and has been met by all nations, and whatever is over and above that is up to the nations. Of course, we will take whatever contributions we can get. But that's where we are. I think the U.S. will announce what its force disposition is within the overall context of the NATO mission.
Q Can you just address the 20,000 figure, though? Is that separate from the NATO figure? Like, the U.S. force will be whatever the U.S. force is, and then the NATO force will be what the NATO force is, but there's not going to playing off of the two?
GEN. JONES: I'm not sure I understand what you mean by "playing off," but essentially, the -- at the end of the day, the NATO force, which will include the U.S., in order to do this mission, should be around 21,000 troops total.
Q There are that many Americans are there now, roughly. So does that mean half of them are coming home?
GEN. JONES: That's a national decision. The nation could decide to leave more there to prosecute their -- the more aggressive mission that would be done outside of the NATO box. But for the NATO mission itself, it's roughly about 21,000.
Q Sir, given all of the demands on NATO's resources, what are the prospects for airlift and other sorts of common assets that NATO had talked about buying as part of its transformation process?
GEN. JONES: One of the characteristics of the Prague capabilities commitments is that it's expensive. And the alliance does not have any organic strategic airlift, for example, and we still don't. We didn't have it three years ago, we don't have it today. But there are things in the alliance to look at acquiring perhaps some strategic airlift to bring into the alliance, perhaps buying, perhaps leasing, working out the arrangement through common funding. You know, we have the example of the NATO AWACS fleet, which is commonly funded and paid for, and that works very well. The alliance is currently considering whether they wish to do that for strategic lift. And that would certainly be a welcome addition, from my standpoint, because that's a critical shortfall right now.
Q Is there any pressure on the alliance to support, say, the A-400, which is this new common European airlift, versus an American plane?
GEN. JONES: The A-400M is in fact the alliance's goal to achieve in about the year 2010, 2012 time frame. But that is, in my view, a tactical aircraft, not a strategic aircraft. And so there's a need for both. But the A-400M is definitely on the alliance's block to acquire. But over and above that, I believe that there's a need for a strategic airlifter.
Q Like a C-17?
GEN. JONES: Like a C-17 would be an excellent choice, or anything compatible.
Q Can I ask you a EUCOM question?
GEN. JONES: Sure.
Q Jamie mentioned Darfur. Can you give us a sense of EUCOM's involved -- the greater involvement in Western African now? General Wald's been down there a couple of times. Just give us some sense of how you've been expanding the EUCOM footprint down there.
GEN. JONES: Well, the European Command has in fact been proactively engaged with an increasing number of African nations through low-level but consistent interface of Special Operations missions, Marines. I think we drew a very good lesson from the Marine Corps on the Georgia train and equip, which was a highly successfully but relatively low budget type of investment.
One of the things that most of the nations in North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa have in common is a -- it's an enormous piece of real estate, and they don't always know what's going on inside their own territories. And so we have been working with them on a consistent basis to help build up their capacity and to provide them with some information and intelligence about some of the things we have the capacity to know and has resulted in some pretty good successes against the idea that this would be a -- this part of the world could become a recruiting ground for the future extremists.
We do have a fairly well-known terrorist organization called GSPC that has been an al Qaeda look-a-like and want-to-be organization for some time, and we've had some successes in getting some of these -- some of their leaders apprehended and behind bars in different countries. And we intend to continue to develop those relationships with our friends in Africa because we have a common purpose, and I would say that it's yielding good results in terms of building confidence and trust and that we feel that the forces assigned to the European Command are increasingly welcome in a partnership type --
Q (Inaudible) --
GEN. JONES: Pardon me?
Q (Inaudible) -- basing or staging basing there, arrangements -- agreements -- you're coming --
GEN. JONES: No. No, basing -- no long-term basing projects at all, but just a shared -- shared agreements, where we can use the facilities in various places while we're there, obviously, for establishing a footprint, force protection. But I want to emphasize that this is a, really, a collaborative engagement strategy that I think is very exciting for the future.
Q Sir, could I piggyback on that -- on Tony's question? Is there -- is NATO -- should NATO be more involved in Africa, or should it be a coordinated sort of effort between the NATO nations and Africa in addition to the EUCOM effort?
GEN. JONES: Well, I -- the fact of the matter is that NATO has always been more of an East-West organization. That's changing. There is a program in NATO called the Mediterranean Dialogue, and it is composed of seven nations, five of which are on the North African littoral; the other two are Jordan and Israel on the northern rim of the Mediterranean.
This partnership is bringing together for the first time, with -- in a military-to-military context, partnerships and dialogue with countries of the region with NATO, mostly centered, for the moment, around Operation Active Endeavor in the Mediterranean, a maritime operation. But who knows where it could lead? This is a -- but this is a very, very exciting development.
And it is yielding to -- it is yielding a NATO-to-North African relationship. I mentioned the operation in Darfur. That's another example of NATO in Africa.
And the third one would be that in July of this year we're going to have a LIVEX, live exercise, called Steadfast Jaguar, which is an NRF step towards FOC, to be conducted at the Cape Verde -- on the Cape Verde Islands, which is not on the continent but certainly part of the African community. And so there are three examples there of NATO's searchlight, if you will, turning itself in a southerly direction, which I think is not only exciting but also very important.
Q General, are you aware of efforts to negotiate the surrender of the Bosnian Serb military leader?
GEN. JONES: Yes --
GEN. JONES: I'm aware of the ongoing effort, because I have something to do with that, yeah. (Laughter.)
Q But there had been reports that negotiations to gain his surrender are under way. Are you aware of that?
GEN. JONES: Oh, I'm quite certain that there are a lot of negotiations going on. I know Mrs. Del Ponte, the special prosecutor for the ICTY, is always in contact with governments of the Balkans to arrange for those kinds of things.
I might say that in the overall macro list of the 120 indicted war criminals, I think we're down to six left.
Q For his arrest specifically --
GEN. JONES: For his arrest specifically, I'm not aware personally of the details of any discussions. But I'm -- Mrs. Del Ponte and everyone else have been quite clear that the arrest of General Mladic and Mr. Karadzic are absolutely non-negotiable events that have to happen before we get on to more normalized relationships with certain governments.
Q General, you talk about this new NATO being more proactive.
Is there any preliminary talks about how to deal with Iran, as a NATO official had hinted at, according to some foreign journalists, over the weekend, that there might be some of these preliminary talks going on?
GEN. JONES: At the political level -- as you know, NATO's a political military alliance. I can assure you that on the military side there's no -- there's nothing that I'm doing right now that addresses that particular issue.
At the political end of things, the secretary-general has traveled to the Middle East and meets regularly with heads of state. And so NATO -- I would think it would be fair to say that NATO is -- pays attention to what's going on in the world, and in that part of the world in specific. So it's probably safe to say that they're pretty well up to speed on generally what's going on. But I know of nothing specific with regard to NATO and Iran that's on the table.
Q General, I just want to see if I understand you correctly. You said you don't see signs of a resurgent Taliban in al Qaeda, yet NATO is sending more troops than it ever has to Afghanistan. If you don't have a resurgent insurgency, why are you sending more troops to Afghanistan?
GEN. JONES: The mission of NATO in Afghanistan is to help the Karzai government reach out to the totality of the country. It's a country roughly the size of Texas; it's quite large. I would emphasize to you that the character of NATO's relationship or mission in Afghanistan is to help the -- help in the total reconstruction of Afghanistan, not just the security end of things. So this military mission, that is an important piece of the mission is a civilian mission to augment the numbers and the capacity of the provincial reconstruction teams, of which there will be about 23 when NATO takes over the entire mission. And it's the provincial reconstruction teams which make up for the -- hopefully, the temporary absence of the Karzai government's ability to reach out to the hinterlands to make the changes and bring about security, but also the economic reconstruction, the system of law and order, social justice, and the like.
And so let's be sure that we understand that NATO is not just going in there to fight, it's going in there to help the Afghans help themselves so that they can actually replace us -- replace the military, replace the PRTs -- and gradually extract ourselves. So it's a very broad mission.
Q As a quick follow-up, to what extent does the Karzai government control the country? About how much of it would you say it controls and how much of it is controlled by, say, warlords?
GEN. JONES: That's a very good question. Well, the warlords I would say have a role, but it's certainly not what it used to be. I think how you quantify that answer -- how I could quantify that answer is very hard to say because it's not a smooth wave that just kind of goes out and you can say, well, this is the limit.
It's more of a -- well, if you put it in the category of the Afghan National Army, for example, the Afghan National Army of all the pillars of reconstruction, which the international community defines as being social, police, disarmament, narcotics and the Afghan Army, the Afghan Army is way ahead of all of the others. So what we have to do is figure out the ways to empower and invest more in the other four pillars and make them catch up because that's what needs to be done.
So on the overall security quotient of the capabilities of the Afghan Army, they're doing a lot better than they ever have done in the past, but the police needs a lot of work, the social; the rule of law needs a lot of work. And we have to get those other pillars to catch up.
Q Can you ballpark it? Like, can you say Karzai controls half the country, less than half, more than half?
GEN. JONES: He controls -- I mean, they control the whole country. I mean, there is a government. There is a parliament. I mean, it is functioning, and there are governors. I mean, there is a fabric there. What we're trying to do now is -- the fabric and the mosaic is there -- is to empower it to be able to do the things that it needs to do in order to have it become a viable country and to be successful.
Q General, the problem with standing up the reaction force -- the response force is kind of symbolic of the problem with NATO funding as a whole. You know, the United States has been constantly asking the NATO nations, you know, to increase their defense budgets, and then they've gone the other way. Almost all of them have been reducing their funding. Are you facing an overall problem with resourcing from your --
GEN. JONES: One of the interesting realities of the alliance is that there is great political will to do more. Three years ago, when I left the Pentagon, the alliance was in the Balkans, and that was it. Now, we -- you've seen the map, and you know where we are. So there's great political will to do more, and I'm particularly pleased by the will that nations have shown to do more in Afghanistan, in particular, because that's a challenging mission.
But unfortunately, the other side of that coin is that we haven't seen the -- an equal political will to resource more, and that has to be corrected because there's a contradiction there. And that's why we're working in the alliance. The secretary-general is working on reforming the way we spend our money and we handle our money; reforming the way we fund our operations; and trying to get nations to understand that at some point this rubber band gets stretched to a breaking point. But it is well understood. It's being politically addressed, and we'll have to see where it goes. But it is an identifiable problem.
Q General, is there -- at this point, is a larger role for NATO in Iraq completely off the table?
GEN. JONES: I would say that there is no political discussion -- there is no political discussion going on in the alliance on significantly enlarging the role of NATO's contributions to Iraq at present. Things could change, but we're not significantly -- we're not considering any kind of enlargement at present.
Q General, getting back to that list you outlined earlier about the problems in Afghanistan of the drug trade, criminality and the Taliban, al Qaeda, does that mean that you consider the Taliban and al Qaeda to be the least significant of those three problems?
GEN. JONES: I wouldn't say that it's the least significant. But I think it's the one that's, from the standpoint of reporting, the most difficult to deal with, because it's the one that people immediately go to when violence happens. You tend to say, "Well, here's the Taliban coming back," or "Here is al Qaeda." It just seems to be almost a knee-jerk reaction. And my conviction is that it is an element that -- that they are elements of a wider span of problems within a society. And I listed what I thought the others were.
So I don't -- I wouldn't -- I just don't want to ascribe to them a role that is greater than what I think they are. I think they are remnants. I don't think we are heading towards a revitalized insurgency. And I think that the upticks in violence are in part attributable to the fact that we're actually going to more places and taking the engagement to the enemy.
Q Can you give us a sense of the enlargement -- (off mike)? I mean, I do you think it's definitely ongoing to happen, or is -- (off mike)?
GEN. JONES: I think that it will -- that at the 2006 summit it will -- nations will discuss whether they wish to enlarge further and that it might be done -- it might be something that might be considered in 2008. That's really what's on the agenda. How it comes out, I don't know. But there are a number of nations that would like to become NATO members, and we'll just have to wait and see.
Q So when will a decision be made, a final decision --
GEN. JONES: Well, they could -- the nations could say that they'll consider enlargement in 2008. They could say 2010. We have these summits every two years. But I think this will be something that will be discussed in Riga as to how they wish to proceed. I wouldn't want to speculate on what that is, other than to say that there are quite a few nations out there that regularly tell us how much they want to be part of NATO.
Q You called the narcotics problem in Afghanistan the most serious internal threat, and then you mentioned that NATO's role is the total reconstruction of the country. So how do you justify saying that NATO role -- NATO's role is in narcotics is going to be a passive one? I mean, wouldn't it be -- don't we need a larger, more aggressive role on the part of NATO to combat narcotics?
GEN. JONES: There is a -- as you know, in the militaries, there is a -- there's pretty strong views as whether that's the right role for a uniformed soldier to participate in. Even our own country -- we have some pretty strong feelings about that.
But it doesn't mean that within the overall context of the effort, which is going to have to go on and is going to have to be a visible expression of the Karzai government's will to tackle this issue -- but it will be supported by the international community. But it won't be just military. Matter of fact, it may not be military, but it would be drug enforcement agencies, it'll be a function of police, it'll be a function of the Afghans themselves and their own security forces, and that's the nature of it.
But what I was trying to say was that because of where these -- the poppy fields are and everything else, that NATO cannot just pretend like it's not going on. And there are some things that we can do to be -- and that are authorized by the alliance to do to be helpful without being the ones that are out actually executing the mission. This is tied to the court system, it's tied to the reconstruction of law and order, it's tied to the development of prison capacity in the country. I mean, all of these things have to be kind of nurtured, and the whole -- the G8 family of nations are the ones that are focusing on this under the leadership of the United Nations.
Q Quick question -- do you see the role of JTF-Horn of Africa changing at all, and expanding to allow some of those countries you talked about in West Africa and North Africa to perhaps -- those operations would fall under the -- an expanded role of the task force?
GEN. JONES: I think JTF-Horn of Africa has been a really powerful and successful mission that certainly exceeded anything that I thought that they'd be able to do when they were first formed.
As you know, the Horn of Africa falls under the U.S. Central Command, and I would say that a parallel mission in the U.S.-European Command is the Trans-Sahel Counterterrorism Initiative. And if you take both of those simultaneously, you actually address the entire sub-Saharan part of Africa, all the way from the west to the east.
But I think that what Horn of Africa-JTF has done has really been -- is worthy of some serious study to see how -- where else that kind of model might be useful.
What I learned from it was that instead of a national focus, it's a regional focus. And as a matter of fact, in the USEUCOM, we now think of our entire AOR, 91 countries, in terms of regions: five in Africa and three in Europe and Asia. And that regional understanding of how to tackle your responsibilities is extremely important and very useful. So the regional -- the line between U.S. Central Command and EUCOM is a very blurry one. And we work on a daily basis with JTF Horn of Africa and U.S. Central Command, as they do with us, to make sure that we have a unified approach to solving the problem of the regions.
Q On that subject, it seems that in the capacity-building in Africa you're starting from a very low level. Are you concerned that the terrorist groups may be in many cases more sophisticated than the armies and, therefore, have a good shot at establishing some presence on the continent?
GEN. JONES: I think that what we're doing here is extremely important because it's at the right time. If we can engage correctly here -- and I think that the engagement and the costs can be quite low -- then you are helping nations help themselves for the future. To turn a blind eye to it I think would guarantee that some years down the road we will be having to do something there to correct the problem. So I think engagement now is the right thing to do, and we should do it on a proactive -- in a proactive and consistent way, as opposed to the way we used to do it, which is to go to Africa -- I think I've -- I don't know how many Liberia missions I've seen in my 40-year career, but it seems like the Marines go to Liberia every six years and wonder why it still isn't fixed. Well, I think it's because we go there, we pour a lot of money into it, we stay there for two or three months, we leave, and come back three or four years later and have to do it again. So I think learning that lesson, that you have to be present, presence with a purpose, that purpose doesn't have to be expensive but it has to be tailored to fit the needs of the region. And I think that's what we're doing.
Q Aren't you -- or are you limited -- do you feel constrained in what you can do, particularly in Africa? The American Servicemembers Protection Act prevents the U.S. military from engaging in a lot of military training and education of foreign militaries in places where they haven't signed a bilateral agreement with the United States to protect servicemembers from the International Criminal Court. A lot of countries in Africa haven't signed that bilateral agreement. So are there constraints on what you can do, and what would you like to see changed there?
GEN. JONES: I think there -- yes, there are constraints, and we live with those and we try to work through them. As an overall comment, I think that we should really do an in depth look at how we empower our forces to make sure that they can actually get out there and do the things they need to do. And so every now and then, some revision just to make sure that such and such a regulation or such and such a law that's been existence for a long time may in fact be no longer appropriate, we need to make sure that we can clean these up so that we can do the things we need to do in the way we need to do them.
And I think we're making some headway on that score, Pam.
Yes, sir? Last question.
Q Thank you. General, how long does NATO anticipate being in Afghanistan? And what are different projections?
GEN. JONES: I think NATO is certainly not getting into this with the idea that next year is -- or the year after. We have the lesson of the Balkans to go on, and so I think I would say that NATO is going down there with the idea that it's going to be there to do what it takes, that it feels that Afghanistan is well worth the effort, and that it was certainly impressed by the short-term progress that has been made in that country. And 26 nations for sure -- member nations -- have signed up to bring about change and to help in this worthy effort, and 10 more who are not NATO nations will join with us.
So this will be an effort to -- it's not a race, but I mean, the expectations of the people of Afghanistan are quite high, and from my standpoint, it's a question of building the governance of Afghanistan so that it can meet the people's expectations. And the delta between the two is where the instability is. So the quicker we can get the government out there and meet the people's expectations, which is extremely high -- I mean, I have to tell you that one of the most striking things about Afghanistan is the people and their collective will to live in freedom and to have a better life for themselves and their children, and that is something you can see almost anywhere you go in Afghanistan. And with that kind of will, I think the probability of success in Afghanistan is very high.
Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. It was good to be with you.
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