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DOD News Briefing with Lt. Gen. Scaparrotti from the Pentagon

Presenters: Commander, International Security Assistance Force Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti
February 08, 2012

            GEORGE LITTLE (Pentagon Spokesman):  Good morning.  I'd like to welcome back to the Pentagon briefing room Lieutenant General Curtis Scaparrotti, United States Army.  He is the commander of ISAF Joint Command, the deputy commander of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan.  He joined us in October of last via DVIDS.  General Scaparrotti is on his second tour in Afghanistan, and he assumed his current duties in July 2011. 

            Previously he served as the commanding general of I Corps and Joint Base Lewis-McChord after serving for two years as the commanding general of the 82nd Airborne Division.  During that time he deployed to Afghanistan as the commanding general of Joint Task Force 82 in eastern Afghanistan.  General Scaparrotti also served as the director of operations for the United States Central Command and the 69th commandant of cadets the United States Military Academy. 

            In addition to his assignments in Afghanistan, he has deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, as well as missions in Bosnia- Herzegovina, Liberia and Rwanda. 

            General Scaparrotti regularly travels throughout Afghanistan to gather a full picture of ISAF's coalition and partnered efforts, and today will provide an operational update. 

            He will make some opening comments, and then we'll take your questions. 

            And with that, General, I'll turn it over to you. 

            LIEUTENANT GENERAL CURTIS SCAPARROTTI:  Good morning.  I'd like to make a comment or two up front, and then we'll take questions. 

            Well, it's good to be here, and I look forward to the discussion with you.  Today I plan on giving you an update on the progress that's made -- been made over the past seven months that I've been in Afghanistan by both Afghan and coalition forces, my priorities as the operational commander of ISAF Joint Command, the combined team's operational planning efforts for the upcoming fighting season and IJC's objectives for 2012. 

            As most of you know, it's IJC's responsibility to manage the day- to-day operations for the coalition's military operations throughout Afghanistan.  IJC is a NATO headquarters of approximately 1,400 personnel, both military and civilian, from 33 nations.  The six regional commands throughout the country report directly to our headquarters. 

            Since returning to Afghanistan last summer, I've personally seen steady progress across the country.  The Afghanistan government and partnership with the coalition has taken significant steps forward. Surely Afghanistan will continue to face tough challenges, but together with our Afghan partners, our strategy remains focused, the combined team engaged.  And I believe we have the right plan.  We certainly have the momentum, and we've got the resolve to succeed. 

            Currently approximately 50 percent of the Afghan population has entered the process of transition, and the Afghan government and local communities throughout Afghanistan are increasingly taking the lead for their own security, governance and development, all without any significant spikes in the violence in the areas that have begun transition.  As you know, our primary objective is the transition of the Afghan National Security Forces into the lead. 

            And therefore, I spend a lot of time focused on the Afghan security forces and their capacity and their competence. 

            The ANSF are improving, and they are increasingly demonstrating their ability to protect the people.  A recent UNDP report found that 81 percent of the Afghan population has respect for the police, and 59 percent report they have access to a police station within 30 minutes of where they live.  That's up 42 percent in 2009.  These are higher favorable perceptions than we have seen in the past and a sign that the police are moving in the right direction as well. 

            With over 300,000 Afghans in uniform, freedom of movement has increased, insurgent support bases have been reduced, and the people are gaining respect for their Afghan security forces.  I believe this trust and sense of security will increase as the Afghan forces step into the lead. 

            Kabul is a great example of where the ANSF have the lead for security, and they've mitigated multiple threats and denied the insurgents' objectives.  Recent examples of their success include the Loya Jirga security, the Ghazi Stadium opening.  Both occurred without a major security incident despite credible public enemy threats. 

            Of significance, the Afghans developed the operational plan Op Naweed 1391, which I hope to talk to you about a bit.  That plan will guide the combined team operations in 2012 and in 2013.  Op Naweed was written by the Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Defense and the National Directorate of Security planners, and it was written in Dari by them and then translated into English.  And that's a first, and I think it's an important step.  The focus of this plan is to enable the Afghans to take the lead and to hold and expand our current security gains. 

            As the Afghan security forces have continued to grow and develop, so have the programs and capabilities to train and professionalize the force. 

            Officer and NCO basic and branch courses are now established, and literacy training is integrated into the Afghan forces at both institutional and unit levels.  And today, Afghans conduct approximately 70 percent of their training -- of the training on their own, Afghans training Afghans.  These are all good indicators that they're on the right track.   

            As I conduct battlefield circulation to assess our progress and challenges, I emphasize the following priorities and these are my priorities presently for the campaign: Maintain the momentum of the campaign, we must relentlessly pursue the enemy and sustain the tactical defeat of the insurgents in the decisive terrain of the south and expand the security zone surrounding Kabul, denying insurgent support areas, caches, and infiltration.  The second:  Accelerate the development of the Afghan national security forces and move them into the lead as soon as possible.  Third priority:  Assist GiRoA's efforts to improve public administration; assist in the hiring, placing, protecting of civil servants and the delivery of basic services to the people.  The fourth is communicate visible, tangible and recognizable progress; it's really our communications.  And then fifth:  To maintain our agility and planning and force posture, both in the coalition and the ANSF.  And finally, we must sustain the coalition:  The diversity and strength of the coalition has been and will continue to be essential to our success in Afghanistan.   

            In early January 2012, the Afghan defense ministries, in coordination with IJC, began implementation of Operation Naweed, which means "good news" in Dari.  Op Naweed will expand on the success of Op Lomed, its predecessor.  It will focus both Afghan and coalition forces on deepening the gains we've achieved and expanding them during 2012.   

            We will continue to ensure security in the major population areas like Kabul, Kandahar, Helmand, Mazar-e Sharif and Herat, and we'll protect the commerce routes that connect them.  In particular, we'll connect Kabul to Kandahar to Lashkar Gah, and focus on the improved border security in this coming year. 

            These operational objectives directly support the Afghan Inteqal, a transition process.  And all of these activities will be bolstered by the introduction of security force assistance teams in this coming year. 

            In conclusion, it's an honor and a privilege to serve with our Afghan partners, and especially the brave soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and civilians of this great coalition.  I'm humbled by their sacrifice in this cause.  And as a combined team, I assure you that we are unified in our effort and we're confident in our success. 

            And with that, I would welcome your questions. 

            MR. LITTLE:  Bob? 

            Q:  General, Bob Burns with AP.  General, I'd like to ask you to respond to the article that was published in Armed Forces Journal by Lieutenant Colonel Dan Davis in which he says that ISAF leaders -- presumably, including yourself -- have been misleading the public about the degree of progress that's been made there.  He says that, whereas compared to the rosy scenario that he hears that -- he says there's been a lack of -- a lack of success -- I think he said a lack of success at virtually every level in Afghanistan. 

            GEN. SCAPARROTTI:  Right.  I read the article.  I -- what I would say is this:  It's one person's view of this.  From my personal point of view, I do a lot of battlefield circulation; I talk to commanders and soldiers; I have assessments from others, like my sergeant major that I put on the battlefield virtually every week to walk with both Afghan and coalition parts.  So I take in a lot of -- a lot of data from many different places to determine my assessment, to include a very objective, detailed assessment we do every quarter. 

            So I'm confident that -- in my personal view that our outlook is accurate. 

            I did read the article, and I think that as you read that article, I don't doubt what he describes in a sense, for instance, his occasion of watching a policeman watch an insurgent depart an area. You know, I think those things happen. 

            We have an -- we have an ANSF that has doubled in size in 18 months, and we're presently building.  So you know, there's -- what I would say to you is that we have to be -- try to be very accurate about what we see and what we understand the battlefield to be and not treat it as we want it to be.  So I work very hard personally at that, and I also take -- I pay attention to what -- the folks who perhaps disagree, and I look for people to be around my conference room table that'll argue with me. 

            Q:  Just one specific follow-up on -- one particular thing that he said was that ISAF and U.S. troops don't actually respect the Afghan forces, their ability -- 

            GEN. SCAPARROTTI:  Well, I disagree with that.  I think I've seen enough of them to know there is -- when I talk to soldiers -- let's take an American soldier or a private.  At times this private will tell me they're not that good.  But a private is looking at it from the perspective of how he's trained or the Marines trained, and the standards are very different. 

            But I can tell you personally from experience and from feedback from others, these soldiers will fight, particularly at the company level.  There's no question about that.  And they're going to be good enough as we build them to secure their country and to counter the insurgency that they're dealing with now. 

            Will they be at the standard that we have for our soldiers?  No, not, at least, the conventional forces.  They do have -- their response forces we're training, their SOF forces, the commandos, are being trained to a very high level; and I think that's one thing that's a bright picture here for them, is that their response forces are really coming along very well.  And that will be -- you know, that will be quite an asset for the country here in the future. 

            MR. LITTLE:  Tom. 

            Q:  General, in your remarks, you talked about the Afghan forces increasingly taking the lead.  Then you said you hoped they would step into the lead.  And then you said your goal is to move them into the lead -- 

            GEN. SCAPARROTTI:  Right. 

            Q:  -- as soon as possible.  Could you just square all that? 

            And also, how many Kandaks can operate independently now?  And have they done -- has any of the Afghan forces done any independent operations? 

            GEN. SCAPARROTTI:  Well, first of all, to -- as we look forward here, development of the ANFS is my second priority, and I'm pressing commanders to put them into the lead as soon as they can.  The earlier we get them into the lead, the better we have a metric of just how well they're doing and we also know better how to improve them.  And I want to do that while we have more forces on the ground in order to help develop them.  So I am pressing them into the lead. 

            Right now we do -- probably about 30 percent of the operations that we do are independent operations run by a patrol, for instance, of Afghans on their own.  OK?  They're in the lead.  They may have a coalition force with them enabling them, but they're in the lead, about 30 percent. 

            We do have a number of forces now that are stepping out into the lead, choosing to do their own planning, informing our forces and going out.  So it's building.  But I would say it's early stages, to be frank with you.   

            If you look at the numbers right now, we have several categories we use.  Independent with advisers is the top one.   

            In other words, we'd be able to provide advisory group and enablers. And out of the ANA we've got 29 Kandaks right now, and seven ANP. They're at that highest rate, OK, so a relatively small number for that large of an army or a police. 

            Q:  But of how many Kandaks? 

            GEN. SCAPARROTTI:  Out of the total, I don't have it right here on me.  But it's -- you know, you've got probably -- I'd be taking a guess.  I'm not going to give it to you, but I can get to you here in a minute.  That's about -- you know, that's about probably 1 percent, OK, to be honest with you.  So it's a very low number. 

            But then you go to the next category, effective with advisers, 42 percent.  That's -- and that has been growing throughout, and that's really what we're trying to do.  That's a good -- you know, that's half your force, nearly, that -- effective with advisers.  So they can operate, they need our enablers, they need some advisory to help them, and that's where we're at today. 

            Q:  And along those lines, there's a brigade now at Fort Polk training up to go over and to break down into advise-and-assist teams. Talk about what you expect them to do and how you expect them to move this forward this year.   

            GEN. SCAPARROTTI:  Yeah.  Well, as we move forward, and our -- we're thinning our forces out, these advisory teams will come in. They'll be connected to a brigade, you know, a coalition brigade, so they have a combat force that they're connected to, a commander within the area they work.  And they will be connected to an Afghan Kandak at the army level, down to battalion level, or to a district police -- in one of the key terrain districts.  By doing that, we maintain our connectivity to the Afghan forces as we thin out.  We maintain our ability to provide enablers to them and to advise them.  And the other thing is, we also maintain our SA of the battlefield, by deploying these. 

            Now these forces will be deployed a little bit differently in each piece of the battlefield.  It will be the regional commander, brigade commander's calls, but they'll make those calls in how they're deployed based on the threat that's in that area and the proficiency of the unit itself. 

            So you may see an -- you may see an advisory team that's 18 persons working with the Kandak, and they're on their own, with a tether back to their higher, you know, combat unit.  You may see one that's got a rifle platoon with him because of the threat in the area and perhaps the proficiency of the unit they're with. 

            So we have to make some force protection assessments and some assessments about the Afghan unit.  And then we'll deploy them in that manner.  So they'll all be just a little bit different depending on the situation. 

            Q:  Deploying in the spring? 

            GEN. SCAPARROTTI:  And we'll begin deploying this year these teams. 

            MR. LITTLE:  OK.  Larry. 

            Q:  General, thanks for taking our questions.  The deadline -- the next deadline coming up as far as U.S. troops in Afghanistan is the end of the summer -- September-October, I guess, is the -- 

            GEN. SCAPARROTTI:  Right. 

            Q:  Can you spell out for us, is this going to be a gradual drawdown to that, or is it going to be fairly steady and then a sharp drop-off at -- right at -- as the deadline approaches? 

            And can you respond to something that Admiral McRaven talked about yesterday, as the U.S. -- number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan withdraws, that it's going to become a more special operations force- intensive theater? 

            GEN. SCAPARROTTI:  Yeah.  Well, the first one, about the -- you know, we have -- in order, we'll have another 23,000 U.S. that we bring out of theater between now and the end of September.  And we'll begin some of that, you know, when the spring time frame -- I don't want to discuss the pace of that withdrawal, but it will be of 68K in the September time frame.  And I believe that we can get to that, maintain the momentum of the campaign and continue to drive on in September with that -- you know, with that number.  So we've been working that hard, particularly of late. 

            The second one had to do with the special operations forces. 

            You know, the special operations forces have been a significant part of this campaign, and they'll continue to be, you know, throughout the campaign, both in what they bring to the fight in terms of their own op tempo and their special capabilities, particularly against the select leaders of the insurgency, et cetera, but also in training those response forces that I talked about -- very well trained by the special forces and then the Afghan local police as well.  All of those -- three different things, but they bring -- they bring a quality to the -- to the campaign that's very important.   

            Q:  They'd be playing a larger role as to the number of troops -- U.S. troops in Afghanistan? 

            GEN. SCAPARROTTI:  Well, as we look at the campaign and roll it out, I think that remains to be seen.  We're working on, you know, the future right now, but they'll certainly play an important role throughout the remainder of this campaign and beyond 2014, I think.   

            MR. LITTLE:  Mik. 

            Q:  General, the secretary of defense, Leon Panetta, has said that he hoped that the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan could end by the middle or latter part of next year.  Is that the U.S. military plan?  Is that the goal?  Are you under marching orders to get that done by that time frame?   

            GEN. SCAPARROTTI:  We --  

            Q:  And how likely -- how possible is that? 

            GEN. SCAPARROTTI:  Yeah.  We haven't -- you know, there's been no change in our perspective here with respect to the campaign plan.  We are executing in accordance with the Lisbon road map.  We certainly see some transition as we move forward; that's part of the plan.  You know, in 2013, for instance, we should be in tranche five which puts a hundred percent of the Afghan population -- those provinces and districts -- beginning the transition to Afghan security -- full Afghan security.  So we do plan to transition as we go through that.   

            There will -- in that transition -- it'll be as I described before, a transition between today where we are in the lead; we are partnered with like units or perhaps battalions to brigades, for instance.   

            We will be moving into Afghans taking the lead, with partners and then smaller security force assistance units, and then sometime down the road with the Afghans fully in the lead. 

            You know, exactly how that'll roll -- there's a lot of -- a lot of things that impact that in terms of conditions on the ground.  But we see that happening, and certainly 2013 is an area where, you know, because of the transition, we would hope to be pretty far along. 

            I will say, though, that even with SFAs, as we move forward, I see combat as part of what we're doing.  You know, the insurgency itself -- the fact that the ANSF will be in the lead and we'll be supporting it will still be a combat role there. 

            Q:  And with all this public discussion about the end of combat, all troops out by the end of 2014, reconciliation, negotiations, prisoner swaps with the Taliban, do you get any sense that the Taliban is looking at all this and sitting back on their haunches and saying, they'll be out of here; we'll take over again? 

            GEN. SCAPARROTTI:  Well, you know, Jim, it's interesting, because when you -- what we -- as we watch the Taliban here -- for instance, this past summer and fall they were -- they were public about the fact that their intent was to take back the Helmand River Valley, take back Kandahar, essentially their home in the southern part of Afghanistan.  And they surely tried to do that. 

            But they were unsuccessful at doing that.  And they were unsuccessful at even reaching the level or the OPTEMPO that they had done in the past -- they had reached in the past or they intended to reach.  And interestingly enough, what we've got now is they're looking at the same thing here this next year. 

            So I don't see any indicators that they decided that we're going to sit back, you know, we're going to wait or whatever. 

            I think -- I think they're -- they are still staying on their track of trying to attack our forces and the Afghans, and to defeat us.  I don't think they're sitting back at all, from what I can see. 

            MR. LITTLE:  Spencer. 

            Q:  Sir, thanks for taking our questions.  The United Nations said that civilian deaths in 2011 were up 8 percent from 2010.  That's the fifth consecutive year of the increase.  So I'm wondering, do you dispute those figures, or how does that square with what you say are steady progress and the U.S. maintaining the momentum in Afghanistan? 

            GEN. SCAPARROTTI:  Well, I think, you know -- those figures in terms of the increase in civilian casualties I think are correct. There's a couple of different numbers that are relatively close in terms -- so there has been an increase in that.  I would point out that also -- and if you go to the UNAMA report, for instance, the increase is about 70 -- you know, 77 percent of those casualties in 2011 were caused by the enemy, 14 percent by us, in their -- in their statistics.  So it's clearly an increase, but it's an increase predominantly because of the enemy's, you know, target against civilians. 

            Q:  But doesn't that mean an increase in their freedom of action? 

            GEN. SCAPARROTTI:  The -- you know -- 

            Q:  Their ability to harm Afghans, maintaining their ability to harm Afghans, increasing their ability to harm Afghans, despite the surge? 

            GEN. SCAPARROTTI:  Their -- you know, what little bit that's up -- I would tell you that across the battlefield, when you look at Afghanistan, for instance, there is a freedom of action that they have, and it's particular places.  But the freedom of action they show today is increasingly in IEDs and suicide bombing.  They don't have the capability to take us on directly.  In fact, they've changed their TTP because they're unable to do that with either us or the ANSF.  So I don't know that I would say it's an increase freedom of action.  I think it's actually reduced, and it's pushed them into a certain TTP, which isn't ideal. 

            Now, in doing that, they've increased the use of suicide bombers, for instance.  And if I recall right -- correctly -- it was about -- it went up about 80 percent. 

            And those caused civilian casualties.  One in three of their IEDs -- or one in three of the civilians injured, Afghan civilians, were caused by, you know, enemy IEDs.   

            So, you know, what I would focus on is the fact that you've got an enemy who has stated that he is concerned about the people, that he doesn't want to harm the people in his actions, and yet over these years you've seen a steady increase in that happening.  On the other hand, we work very, very hard to drive down the -- you know, the civilian casualties.  It did go down 4 percent this year.  And we'll continue to try and drive that down as well. 

            MR. LITTLE:  David. 

            Q: How badly has the Taliban really been hurt?  There was that report based on the interrogation of prisoners who said although they suffered severe losses in 2011, that they had survived, that they're essentially intact. 

            GEN. SCAPARROTTI:  Well, I think they've been hurt, and I'll try and describe how I view it.  We know, as I stated before, that they could not generate the tempo that they had in the past.  They didn't reach the tempo they had the year before.  It was down about 9 percent overall in a year.   

            In terms of their ability to generate offensive capability, they're down.  You know, same period last year right now, their complex attacks are down about 36 percent compared to last year. Their ability -- their offensive activities are down usually between 13 and about 25 percent here as we went out of the winter -- or out of the summer into the fall.  So these are indicators that we're having an influence, they've having a hard time generating the kind of offensive action they think they need to. 

            We know that there is good dissension within the ranks, particularly between their midlevel commanders and their senior commanders, because their senior commanders stay in Pakistan and security and continue to expect their midlevel leaders to increase the fight -- and I think without full knowledge of just how tough that fight is for the Taliban on the other side. 

            Now, to your point -- I think is that, while we've had this influence and we've been able to drive down the insurgency's ability to generate offensive capacity, we have to see that continue to go down.  As I'm looking, you know, that's why momentum is my first priority.  We want to continue to drive that down.  We want to stay on them in the winter, and we want to see that continue to go down next summer because, as you know, they have a regenerative capability, particularly with the Pakistan sanctuary.  So this is a tough fight yet with regard to the enemy. 

            Q:  General, I wanted to ask you about the metrics that you use to measure a couple of the goals that you have talked about this morning.  One is, in particular, defeating -- the tactical defeat of the insurgents in the south.  And I wanted to ask you there about do you measure Taliban holding or influencing territory; and if you do, can you share that with us? 

            And the other thing is, you said building -- I forget the words you used -- but, essentially, building local government.  And can you describe what metrics you look at to see whether we're making progress there as you described? 

            GEN. SCAPARROTTI:  Yeah.  Well, on the first one, we have a process that's quarterly that -- just to generally describe it to you, it collects a lot of data from our subordinate units and from other agencies that are operating, you know, within Afghanistan.  And particularly, it looks at the fabric of Afghanistan, if I could say it that way. 

            In the past, in the military, we focused primarily on "red" intel that had to do with the enemy.  One of the things, particularly in IJC, our command:  General Rodriguez set up the Information Dominance group, which is -- which is our intel center. 

            But it is really more focused on the Afghan populace, on perspectives, on changes in the -- in those areas across -- by district, they actually go into. 

            And so they collect data to find out what's going on in terms of freedom of movement, perceptions of the people.  They look at, you know, things, and give us indicators of whether or not the people are leading a -- you know, a life that gives them the freedom to get around, to continue with business, to go to school, those kind of things. 

            So we collect all of that, and every quarter we take a look at it and we review it by -- district by district, there's a report that I get.  And they show whether it's improved or not, and then what the issues are.  So -- and including that, we go into governance.  And that is, you know, rule of law, provision of basic services, the leadership capability of the district governor and the provincial governor. 

            So I think it's very thorough.  It's pretty straightforward.  And it gives me a good snapshot of kind of the reaction and the -- you know, perspectives of the people. 

            Q:  But given the furor that the Dan Davis article caused here, the problem is, we don't have those metrics.  Why don't you share them with us?  Why can't we read your quarterly reports?  That'd be great.  Then we'd know whether y'all's makin' progress. 

            GEN. SCAPARROTTI:  Well, you would, but, you know, there's just a lot of -- there's a lot of things in there that go to informing us operationally, and we'd prefer not to make that public and make it public to the enemy as well, I think, is the -- is the answer. 

            Now, I think that we could probably do better in providing some of that, certainly, that just doesn't get into that area.  And I'll take a look at that, you know.  But that's the way we do the business. 

            We also compare it to others.  You know, there are others that -- other agencies that look at Afghanistan.  We go back district by district and say, where do we disagree, where do we differ, and why. 

            Overall, I would tell you, there's been a steady trend in the improvement in those districts and by district in Afghanistan over time.  And if I could, I'll give you other data point that's pretty interesting to me.  We -- Operation Naweed that I just mentioned, 1391, is the operational level plan.  And it was written this year and just put out by the Afghans here this month, and it was written by them.  We had written it in the past.  They had gone with us, helped, and then we translated it into Dari.  We did it the other way.  And we learned a lot from our Afghan counterparts -- how do they see the fight, do they see it the same way we do, do they see the enemy the same way we do -- those kinds of things. 

            Well, in doing that, they produced a map of Afghanistan, district by district, that displayed their call of the situation based on their capacity in an area and the enemies threaten that area.  And then they basically told us, we think we can hold this area with the police, we think we can hold this area with the police and our army, and these are the areas that we think we need -- we know we need your help.   

            So we have that to compare to ours as well.  And frankly, they weren't that far off, which is encouraging when you see it come from them, separate from us.   

            So I think we take a pretty -- a pretty sober look at it. 

            MR. LITTLE:  We have time for one more question.  Viola. 

            Q:  General, Viola Gienger from Bloomberg News.  How fragile, reversible and durable are the improvements that you have seen on the ground?  And what are you doing to adjust to the new -- relatively new tactics in the past, say, six, eight months, whatever term it has been, with the IEDs?  As you know, President Karzai opened up the recent session of Parliament reading a list of 40-plus names of leaders who have been assassinated. 

            Are you doing anything -- 

            GEN. SCAPARROTTI:  Right. 

            Q:  -- to do training for the force -- security forces or training even for the leaders on security procedures? 

            GEN. SCAPARROTTI:  Right.  Well, first to the reversibility.  As you look at the improvement -- the great improvement of the ANSF, I mean, they are -- they are -- particularly since '09  and '10 when I was there, they're moving along at company level; they will fight.   

            We have to -- what I believe we have to do is first we've got to look at their leadership hard, and I'm working very hard personally with the ministry of defense, with the chief staff of their army, General Rahman, and the police to make sure that we have the right Afghan leaders in the right place because where you have a good Afghan leader, that army -- you know, that organization, police or army, will continue to move forward.  And so that's the first thing that -- to make sure it's sustainable.   

            The second one is -- and one of the toughest threats right now -- is logistics.  You know, for their army and their police to be sustainable, we've got a good deal of work that we've got to do in establishing a logistics system that they run and they operate.  That is moving along as well, but it's got a good deal of work to do primarily at the upper level, because I find that once you can get the parts, the supplies to the lower level, they're pretty creative. They're going to make sure that they'll get things fixed, they'll get their ammo, they'll get fed.  We've got to get the entire system working, and so that's part of the sustainability that we've got to get at.  Leadership and logistics is what I would tell you. 

            Q:  Great.  Thanks. 

            Q:  General, could I just get a quick clarification, please? Because this report by Lieutenant Colonel Davis was a pretty serious indictment of the military leadership.  It was called "Truth and Lies about Afghanistan."  

            And earlier you said you have no doubts that some privates were talking to the Lieutenant Colonel and saying the things that were included in this report.  Yet now you talk about this quarterly report, which seems to vary widely from the view on the -- can you  explain to people why there's such a disparity between your quarterly reports and what the privates on the ground are telling Lieutenant Colonel Davis?   

            GEN. SCAPARROTTI:  Well, I think, you know, the privates are one or two privates.  They're not -- 

            Q:  Right, exactly. 

            GEN. SCAPARROTTI:  -- a lot of privates.  You're taking an individual incident there. 

            So I think, you know, as you go out across the battlefield, for instance, I can go to units that are struggling.  OK, there's no doubt about it.  I can go to many that are doing quite well.  We've got an -- for -- you know, we've got an army and a police that we've doubled in size in 18 months.  So you've got a diversity here between, you know, the units you've got on the field.  So I think that's part of it. 

            But I think that our quarterly reports try to take that as a whole.  We take a lot of different aspects to determine where we're at.  And I -- you know, personally, if you -- my own opinion here, if you listen to me today -- I'm optimistic about this, cautiously. That's the way I would -- that I've presented things to you.  But I'm a realist in how tough this is going to be.  You know, we've got things, as I've mentioned, logistics, you know, the leadership issues, corruption is one, the Pakistan border -- those are things that are tough.  This is going to be a tough fight.  But I'm confident that it can be done. 

            MR. LITTLE:  Great.  Thank you, everyone. 

            Appreciate it, General.  Thank you. 

            Q:  Thanks again, General. 

            GEN. SCAPARROTTI:  Thank you. 

            Q:  Come back again.

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