DOD News Briefing with Canadian Army Maj. Gen. Beare via Teleconference from Afghanistan
MR. JIM TURNER (deputy director, Defense Press Operations): Good morning here, and good evening in Afghanistan. I'd like to welcome to the Pentagon briefing room Canadian Army Major General Stuart Beare. He is the deputy commanding general for police of NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan and Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan. General Beare oversees the training and development of the Afghan National Police, and he assumed his post in August of this year. This is the first time he has spoken to us in this format, and he joins us today from the NTM-A headquarters in Kabul. General Beare will be -- Beare will be making an -- opening comments, and then he'll take your questions.
And with that, General, I'll turn it over to you.
GEN. BEARE: Thank you, Jim. And I guess good morning, folks. Major General Stu Beare. You say it like you'd like to drink it, except you can't do that here. It is great to be able to have this opportunity to speak with you this evening, my time, and to take your questions on how things are going with the police mission here in Afghanistan.
I am the -- one of the leaders of the police training mission here in Afghanistan, in the sense that the police mission, as you could well understand, is a pretty diverse mission that requires the engagement of a lot of actors in terms of developing the Ministry of Interior and everything between it and the operational police forces in the field. And I, with a great team of international partners, both military and police professionals and public servants and contractors, are charged with trying to do the best we can to assist in the development of the Ministry of Interior, its institutional systems, its police forces, and to provide sustainment to the forces in the field.
Here at Eggers, I work with a team of about 150 professionals, primarily military and international police, as well as senior public servants and contractors. We work with 650 police trainers in the field, scattered around 41 training centers across this country. Those trainers include military professionals as well as police professionals, both gendarme and civil police. And we work, as well, with our partners in NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan at large. We number 3,500 across this country.
You have a Canadian soldier talking to you about training and generating police forces, and so I just want to let you know as well that I am partnered, in terms of being provided police advice, by police professionals. And my -- I have a police senior adviser, who happens to be a real Canadian Mounted Police, who's name is Chief Superintendent Konrad Shourie. And as I like to tell Konrad, as you are probably aware from the movies of yesterday, the Mountie always gets his man, but in this case, this man has got his Mountie. So we are clearly recognizing that this mission is not a uniquely military mission, but is one that can use the best of what we bring to this -- to this effort, and what we can bring with our police partners to this effort, as well.
The four main functions of our mission include working with the ministry to help develop the ministry as an institution that can lead, raise, train, operate and sustain police forces today and in the future. (Pause.) I heard a [technical] break in there.
We are working with 250 advisers in the Ministry of Interior each and every day; partnered with the senior -- most senior officials, and working with the senior officials as well as the members of the Ministry of Interior bureaucracy, to help them raise, train, operate and sustain their police forces, as well as to conduct the policy, logistics and programming activities that institutions back home seem to take for granted, but here they need to be developed.
As well, we are working earnestly on building the institutional systems that connect the ministry to its police forces, be that the personnel systems, logistics systems, the communications systems, the engineering plant, infrastructure that allows the ministry to enable its forces in the field to do their work.
We do manage and deliver training through 41 training centers across the country. In those training centers you will find military professionals, multinational police professionals, multinational both gendarme and civilian police, as well as Afghan leaders, commanders of training centers as well as Afghan trainers, who are helping train their own police forces.
And last but not least, we are charged with providing the sustainment services to those police forces in the field, be it logistics, maintenance, supply and the like that allow them to actually conduct operations in the 365 districts and 34 provinces of this country of 30 million people.
When I arrived at this mission some two months ago, I had to take stock of where we were and where we're going juxtaposed against eight years of having come and gone to this country since 2002. This is my first tour, but it's the tenth time I've been here. My first time in on the ground was in 2002 when I was commanding a brigade that had provided to the Rakkasans, the Canadian battle group, 3 PPCLI [3rd Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry], when I visited them there as a force provider. I have visited this country nine times since, as a force provider, a trainer for the Canadian Army training system, and as a force developer.
And over the course of those years I've seen this mission change significantly over time.
But I have to tell you, the most significant shift or change in this mission has been -- in my experience, anyway -- in these last 12 months. And in simple terms, I've been struck by the scope of the intervention that's playing out right now across the whole of the ISAF mission and in -- particularly in the NTM-A mission as we take on the comprehensive development of the Afghan security forces, both army and police, from the ministry to the troops in the field.
I'm also struck by the scale of the intervention in terms of the quality of people and the amount of people that we are now covering down on or using to cover down on: ministries, institutional systems, training centers and partnering in the field -- and the amount of money that is being applied to that to make it all work.
And I'm also struck by the incredible amount of progress, in particular in the last 11 months, since NTM-A stood up and really applied itself full court press to that entire security-force system, and in my case in particular the police.
So with all that backdrop -- as backdrop, I am looking forward to taking your questions and to being able to communicate to you where we think we are and where we think we're going and the help we can use to keep heading in that direction.
MR. TURNER: Joe.
Q Yeah, good morning, sir. This is Joe Tabet with Al Hurra. Could you give us a figure about the current size of the Afghan police? And what's the number that you are looking to reach? And second, how much do you consider the corruption as an obstacle in building the Afghan forces?
GEN. BEARE: So I -- your first question, then, is about the size of the police forces.
When the NTM-A stood up last year, when they did the tally of the strength of the -- all the police forces, of which there are five; there's the Afghan Uniformed Police, the Afghan Border Police, the Afghan [National] Civil Order Police, the[Afghan] Anti-Crime Policeforces, and the anti -- the Afghan Public Protection Forces, which are more security than police forces -- when you add all those five up, this time last year they were at 95,000. Based on our last personnel accounting in September of this year, they now total approximately 120,000, so a growth from 95 [thousand] to 120 [thousand] in under 12 months.
And we're on track to growing the forces entirely to 134,000 by this time next year. And we know we have the capacity in our training system to do that. We know we have the recruiting base to achieve that. And we've taken on enough -- or enough today -- trainers to be able to continue to deliver that, but as I'm sure you've heard, we're going to need more trainers in the future to grow up and sustain it beyond 2011.
In terms of corruption, the fact is corruption is a matter of life more globally, but in particular here in Afghanistan. And it's -- the fact that it exists and that it's a challenge for growing and professionalizing the police forces isn't just known to us, but it's also known to Afghan leaders. Minister Mohammadi came aboard -- the minister of interior -- just this August past, and he's passing his 100-day mark now as being minister of the interior. But early on in his assuming his position as the minister, he sat down and laid on the table six pretty pragmatic and straightforward priorities for dealing with police professionalization and the development of his ministry.
And his priorities were, number one, training and education; number two, leadership; number three, anticorruption; number four, in simple terms, taking care of his troops, taking care of his police forces; and number five, structure reform, putting the right authorities, responsibility and accountabilities to the right leaders in his institution, and making sure the operational force beneath the institution is the right one for Afghanistan; and then, number six, reward and punishment. And it's -- he laid these pretty practical priorities on the table, on top of strategies and policies and strategic plans to -- really, to communicate to his people that all of these things are what are needed in order for this institution to develop, for the ministry to emerge and for the police forces to professionalize over time.
And each one of those things, including being deliberate about anticorruption, has an anticorruption effect. Good training and education bears down on corruption. Good leadership bears down on corruption. Taking care of your people has a positive effect in terms of mitigating or trying to deflect the influence of corruption. Putting the right responsibilities, authorities, in the right people's hands makes that -- has that effect, as well. And also, rewarding good behavior and promoting on a merit-based system, as well as dealing authoritatively with those who do wrong, has an anticorruption effect. And these are Minister Mohammadi's priorities and these are his words, and we're right behind him.
Q Thank you, Major General. This is Lalit Jha, from Pajhwok Afghan News.
The Defense Minister of Afghanistan yesterday said that his security forces are ready to take over from international forces for the security of their own country. Do you think the Afghan security forces are strong enough to secure their own country?
GEN. BEARE: Well, I -- if I understand, you're asking if Afghan security forces are ready now to take security of their own country.
Is that -- is that what I heard?
MR. TURNER: That's correct.
GEN. BEARE: Yeah, okay. So the answer today is no. There's no expectation that today Afghan security forces could go it alone. From the perspective of the police forces in particular that I work with, they're counting on us to continue to assist them in their development at the ministerial level. They're counting on us to continue to assist them in the creation of their institutional systems that connect that ministry to its operational police forces. They're counting on us to work with them and partner with them in training their police forces, including professionalizing their training base, their police training base -- that is, bringing on Afghan leaders into their training system and bringing on many more Afghan instructors. And of course they're still relying on international partners for sustaining the forces in operations.
Flip side of the coin, though, is, in all of those things, they're moving ahead very rapidly. We're watching the ministry move forward in assuming more and more responsibility and authority for the management of its own affairs. Actually, they've always assumed that authority, but their capacity to do that is growing each and every day.
Just in the last two months, the policy department in the Ministry of Interior has put out about two dozen policies -- personnel, employment, intelligence, and the like -- that are having a hugely positive institutional effect. And, of course, these are initiated by them, developed by them and being implemented by them. And we're watching in most cases and assisting where necessary in others. But they're taking charge of these things, and so they're developing that ministerial capacity to chart their own future.
In terms of operations, the police forces are hugely involved in operations, both, you know, globally, across their country -- they're in every community, and there's about 12,600 villages in this country -- so they're in every community trying to do the best they can to secure the population while they can provide some form of policing support to its citizens.
But at the same time they're dealing with the real challenges in the south and in the east and around the country where the insurgency still exists, partnered with us, "shana ba shana" [translation: shoulder to shoulder] as we say, to do that.
So they're on the trajectory to be able to take care of their own security. We know there's a target of 2014 to be able to -- for them to be able to do that, and we're working hard to allow that to happen together with them. And we're seeing progress each and every day.
Q General, thank you. Raghubir Goyal from India Globe and Asia Today.
My question is that since you are doing a great job, according to many Afghans there, and you are training Afghans to take over their own country in the near future, what do you think now Afghans are feeling about your presence?
And also, finally, can you do all this peace and stable Afghanistan without the full support and cooperation from Pakistan across the border?
GEN. BEARE: All right. I'm in the police administrative development business, and I really can't provide you a -- an authoritative answer to the question of to what degree their capacity to secure themselves is conditional on the conditions in Afghanistan, and so I'll have to defer that question.
Q (Off mike) -- as your units are concerned as a police force, as security is concerned -- that's my question, in that connection.
GEN. BEARE: I'm sorry. This is garbled. And I'm -- (audio break) -- bad hearing. So I'm going to ask you to say that one more time. I'm sorry.
Q What I'm asking is, as far as your training the Afghans is concerned, as far as security in Afghanistan is concerned, how does -- how do they feel now, your presence, and as far as Talibans are concerned in Afghanistan?
GEN. BEARE: And this is going to be frustrating for you, but I am sorry, I'm not -- I'm not comprehending the question. I apologize.
MR. TURNER: Let me take a shot at it. I think what he's saying is, insofar as training is concerned of the police, how do you feel about progress?
GEN. BEARE: Progress training --
Q (Off mike) -- with the security forces that you are training, how do the Afghans feel now about your presence there, and that you may have to give command to them in the near future?
GEN. BEARE: Yeah. The Afghans are -- the Afghan security forces, themselves, and particularly the police forces that we're working with, are partnered very well with us today. If you can imagine for the number of years that this mission has gone on without the level of engagement on our part as an international community in terms of partnering up with their police forces in a manner which is similar to that which we have done for a number of years with their army.
The -- when we engage Afghan police leadership, they are hugely grateful for the fact that the international community has rallied.
And in particular, NTM-A in a big way has come aboard to partner with them and support them in a way that the army has enjoyed to some degree for years -- many more years than the police forces have themselves.
And at the same time, Afghan citizens are noticing that we're working with their police force in a way that we have been working with their army in the years past. So all that to say is it's offering Afghan citizens the idea that internationals are working as aggressively with their police forces as they are working with their army. And in public-perception terms, I can't -- I can't help but think that's going to help.
And so as the Afghan police forces professionalize, become more operationally effective, in particular with forces like the Afghan National Civil Order Police, who are hugely effective in operations, their credibility when they're working in and amongst the populations is significantly higher.
So we're seeing the results of our investment on the police forces, which is felt within the police forces themselves, but it's also perceived as a positive improvement in the eyes of Afghan citizens.
Q (Off mike) -- try one more, if I may. Now in your force you may be training many of the Afghans who were -- in the past were fighting against you or against the Afghans. They're now joining the police and force -- police force and the security forces in Afghanistan. How much can you trust them? How much can you rely on them in the future?
GEN. BEARE: Okay. I'm going to answer that question in terms of how are we doing in terms of attracting Afghans to their security forces, and to what degree are they going to want to join them, as opposed to other alternatives.
The recruiting effort that we need to do to actually grow the force and sustain the force, as you can imagine, is pretty significant.
In order to have grown the force last year from 95,000 to 120,000 this year, we would have had to recruit about -- and train about double that number. So we're talking about 40,000. And in the next year, we are -- we are planning to recruit and train about 50,000 to be able to grow the force from today's 120 [thousand] to 135 [thousand] and sustain it for the long haul.
We have never failed to recruit the numbers required to grow the force and to sustain it in the face of whatever attrition the force is experiencing. So we are actually performing -- we -- and I mean we -- we, Afghans and we, are performing quite well in recruiting, in finding Afghans who want to join their security forces, and we're achieving great success through their basic training experience in terms of the numbers who graduate against the numbers that join, to the tune of about 90 percent.
So if we get 100 folks into a training center, at least 90 of them typically have been -- been successful and have graduated from that training experience.
So we're finding that there is not a lack of Afghans who are willing to join their police forces. And today we're recruiting about 1,800 a month for the police, and we're going to raise that number so that we can continue to grow police forces like the Afghan National Civil Order Police, and we can grow substantially over the course of the next year as well.
Afghans are prepared to join, and there's a lot of reasons they're prepared to join. One of them may be because they want to protect their citizens. Another may be because they're looking for a vocation in life or an opportunity for employment. Another may be because the Afghan security forces are one of the institutions that provides the best opportunity for education and literacy.
And I could talk more about that later if you wish, but there's a lot of reasons why they're joining, and all of them are good reasons to become part of the -- of their nation's national security force.
MR. TURNER: Time for one more.
Q Yes. General, Kirit Radia, with ABC News.
Sir, you touched on the need for more international trainers. I was wondering if you could tell us how many more you need, when do you need them by and what happens if you don't get them?
GEN. BEARE: Yeah, we're -- the national -- NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan, as you know, is -- started out last year on the backs of the CSTC-A mission that had been here for a number of years. And we only took on the police mission in a way that is akin to the army mission about 11 months ago. And so from the modest -- the modest numbers of NTM-A police trainers, in the dozens of last year, we're up to about 650 today. And of that 650, we have military police, military contemporary forces, civil police and gendarme.
In order to sustain the growth of security forces in Afghanistan at large, General Caldwell, for the whole of the NTM-A, has identified about 900 positions that need to be brought into the training base and into the institutional base, in order for us to sustain the progress that has been made. And we need to see those numbers coming on line starting spring of 2011.
And those folks are professional trainers; that is, they are the military professional, the military police professional and the police professional. They can allow us to grow our training base in the police, for example, from 11,000 bunks today, to 20,000 bunks next year; from the capacity to routinely put out 25,000 trainees in a year, to 50,000 trainees in a year, starting next year; and also, not for us to do that training, for us -- but for us to be able to cover down on the 2,000 Afghan police trainers that are going to be part of that expanded training system.
This time last year you could count Afghan police trainers in the training base in the dozens. Today they number over 800, and next year they're going to grow to 1,000. And they need to be partnered with those professionals so that we're not the folks that are delivering the training to the Afghan police student but Afghans are. And of course that creates their capacity, through experience, to be able to do more and more of that on their own in the future. So in the police system I'm looking for over 200 more police professionals, be they military, military police and/or police, civil or gendarmes.
And we're hoping to see those in the spring of 2011. We can get from here to there with what we have today. And if we don't get them, we're going to have to find ways to be able to continue to deliver on the quantity we're looking for and still invest in the quality without stepping back on either. And we'll have to see what we get. And if we get that number, great. We can sustain the progress. And if we don't we're going to have to make some tough choices.
MR. TURNER: I'd say we've reached the end of our time. So I'm going to turn it back to you, General Beare, for any closing remarks you'd care to make.
GEN. BEARE: Well, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your interest in the -- in ISAF and the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan; and a special thanks for taking interest in the police mission.
I have to tell you that the Afghan police forces are seen as by Afghan themselves and by Afghan leadership as the institution which is going to allow this country to transition from having fought an insurgency into a world where it can be part of the fabric of Afghan communities that protects the people and provides them their first- order system of justice that we all take for granted back home.
Well, in terms of quantity, we're delivering on the quantities that are required to grow the force. In terms of quality, we're investing heavily today in bringing quality trainers and experts into our system to produce that quality in the Afghan training system itself that can deliver that quality to the Afghans today and into the future.
And anything that can be done to encourage others to continue to contribute with us to that quantity and quality investment is going to have a huge impact on the future of this country.
Thank you very much.
MR. TURNER: Thank you very much, General Beare. We hope to hear from you again soon.
GEN. BEARE: Thank you.