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DOD News Briefing with Gen. Allen from the Pentagon

Presenters: Gen. John R. Allen, Commander, International Security Assistance Force
August 23, 2012

            GEORGE LITTLE: Good morning here in the Pentagon Briefing Room and good afternoon in Kabul.  I'd like to welcome back to the Pentagon Briefing Room General John Allen, United States Marine Corps, commander of ISAF and U.S. Forces Afghanistan.  He joins us for the fourth time as ISAF commander and was last here in person in May of this year.

            We are happy to welcome him back via satellite to provide an update on the progress we've made in the Afghan campaign.  Since he is joining us by satellite, just a reminder that there are sometimes slight audio delays.  General Allen will make some opening comments, and then we'll take your questions. 

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

            GENERAL JOHN R. ALLEN:  George, thanks very much.  Good to hear your voice.  I can't see anyone this morning, but it's good to be with you, ladies and gentlemen, and good to be with you again to answer your questions.

            Now, before I take your questions, I'd like to make some brief opening remarks.  It's been a busy summer for us.  And in ways not readily evident to most outside Afghanistan, it's been a highly successful summer.  Coalition and Afghan forces have maintained unrelenting pressure on the insurgents, and we have denied and disrupted their operations and have largely pushed them out of the population centers.  We've limited their freedom of movement, and we've interdicted their logistics.  We've taken scores of their leaders and fighters off the battlefield, and we've systematically separated the insurgents from more and more of the Afghan population. 

            Insurgent attacks, while still indiscriminate and deadly, are increasingly localized, affecting an ever-shrinking proportion of the Afghan population.  The insurgency we face today, while still active, dangerous and capable of inflicting harm, is trying hard to project its strength as its position continues to slowly erode. 

            We've achieved this success while continuing to move the Afghan national security forces into the lead.  Partnered operations have increasingly been led by Afghan forces.  And the insurgency is today confronted by a rapidly transforming and increasingly capable ANSF, which is bearing a larger share of the burden and a larger share of the sacrifice. 

            As we continue to mourn our own precious and honored dead, we recognize that our Afghan partners are now suffering the preponderance of the friendly casualties.  Their resilience, reinforced by the commitment of the international community to stand by Afghanistan well after 2014, has sent a powerful and a disheartening signal to the insurgents.  For the insurgents to prevail, they will have to keep up their increasingly costly fight for at least another decade.  To be sure, we have a significant amount of work yet to do, and some of that work will be deadly.  With 28 months left in the ISAF mission, we are forging ahead with the process of transition. Ultimately, our goal will not only be achieved by that which will be secured by ISAF forces, but primarily our goal will be achieved by Afghan forces.  And as the Afghans assume full responsibility for the security of their country, our support will continue. 

            This campaign is a continuum.  Through the end of 2014 and beyond, we're creating a series of conditions that will ultimately leave Afghanistan a sovereign state, secured by a capable Afghan military, and afforded the time and the space to develop its institutions of governance.  We aim to leave behind a stable Afghanistan, a contributor to the stability and the prosperity of the region, and never again a safe haven for the terrorists.  That remains our objective, and we're on track to achieve it. 

            I know you'll have questions about insider attacks.  We are working that issue very hard with our Afghan partners, and it is a top priority for me.  In this space and in this time, we are conducting a complex campaign, but we're also dealing with these so-called green-on-blue attacks.  We will continue to achieve success in this campaign, but we will deal with these threats, as well. 

            So the campaign is far from over, and the solution to this problem of green-on-blue will be found by the growing strength every day of the green and the blue.

            And with that, I'd be pleased to take your questions.  Good morning. 

            MR. LITTLE:  We lost some of the audio.  We could see you, but couldn't hear some of the top of your statement.  If there are any key points that you'd like to address from the top, feel free to -- to make those.  If not, we'll go straight to questions. 

            GEN. ALLEN:  Let's just go to questions, George. 

            MR. LITTLE:  Bob Burns with the Associated Press.

            Q:  General Allen, question for you on the insider attacks that you referred to.  Yesterday, President Karzai's office said that after having studied this problem, they've come to the conclusion that it can be attributed mainly to foreign intelligence services that are essentially brainwashing Afghan recruits.  I'm wondering, do you buy that? 

            GEN. ALLEN:  Well, the reason for these attacks are very complex, and we're going to look at all of the reasons.  But I'll tell you that I -- I'm looking forward to Afghanistan providing us with the intelligence that permits them to come to that conclusion so that we can understand how they've drawn that conclusion and we could add that into our analysis.  But we'll -- we'll wait for me to make a definitive statement on that issue until we've seen their intelligence in that regard.

            Q:  General, Tom Bowman with NPR.  We've been told that most of these insider attacks are due to personal grievances and disagreements with U.S. forces and that maybe 10 percent of Taliban infiltration.  Do you still believe that, that there's a very small percentage of Taliban infiltration?  And if it's personal disputes and disagreements, how do you account for 10 of them in the past two weeks? 

            GEN. ALLEN:  Good question, Tom.  It's a really important question. We don't have enough data from those who have participated in the attacks to be able to make any kind of a definitive conclusion.  We think the reasons for these attacks are complex.  Some of them we do believe are about infiltration, impersonation, coercion, but some of them -- and we think that's about 25 percent or so -- but some of them are about disagreements, animosity which may have grown between the individual shooter and our forces in general, or a particular grievance. 

            And so we look at each one separately.  We're trying to understand what may have caused in each case, but also in the aggregate why these attacks have occurred, and why they have increased in number in the last several weeks.  May have something to do with Ramazan.  It's a very tough time for these forces, and in particular, this year, Ramadan, as it is known in most of the Muslim world -- Ramadan fell in the middle of the fighting season, during some of the harshest time for the climate in much of the region in which we fight.

            And so the -- the daily pressures that are on some of these troops, compounded by the sacrifice associated with fasting, the nature of our operational tempo, remembering that Afghan troops have gone to the field and they have stayed in the field, and they've been in combat now for years, we believe that the -- the combination of many of these particular factors may have come together during the last several weeks to generate the larger numbers that you point to. 

            Q:  If I could just quickly follow up, so clearly you're seeing an increase in Taliban infiltration in the most recent attacks?

            GEN. ALLEN:  No, I didn't -- I didn't say that.  What I have said is that we believe that there is Taliban infiltration.  You know, the truth is that we have, between those who have escaped and those that we've killed, the number's relatively small that we have -- that have been captured and then can be interrogated.  Some of them have been infiltrators.  Many of those have been motivated to undertake these attacks because of personal grievance or radicalization or having become susceptible to extremist ideology.

            But you're right.  There is a Taliban influence here, and it, as I said, takes several forms.  It might be an impersonator, someone who gets into the uniform in order to get into close proximity to the forces.  And I might remind everyone that in many cases these impersonators or these infiltrators have, indeed, killed Afghans, as well as they have killed coalition forces.  Indeed, the Afghan casualties are higher than ours in this regard.

            And so, yes, there are infiltrators involved, but I don't believe at this particular junction, given the analysis that we've done, that that infiltration has increased and has generated this higher number. 

            Q:  General, given the spike during Ramadan, was it a mistake not to pull back more advisers in partnership -- partnering during Ramadan?  Would you recommend that in the next -- next year, in Ramadan next year, that that advising effort gets reduced during that -- during that festival, during that fasting time? 

            And the larger question, does this spike in insider attacks threaten the strategy here, the move toward more intensive advising and assisting? 

            GEN. ALLEN:  At this particular moment, I don't believe that we need to contemplate reducing our contact with the Afghans.  You know, indeed, what we have learned is that the closer the relationship with them -- indeed, the more we can foster a relationship of brotherhood, the more secure that we are. 

            We were very careful, actually, during Ramadan this year to undertake operations during those times that would not place great physical strain on the troops, their troops, as well as ours, given the partnership requirements. 

            And so we're going to watch the outcome of Ramadan.  We're going to look back hard upon our operational tempo, the relationship of our security force assistance teams with the -- with the Afghans, and see if there are any conclusions that we can learn.  I don't think at this juncture that we need to pull back at that particular moment.  I think we, in fact, as I said, have learned that the closer the relationship, the more secure, ultimately, our troops will be. 

            Now, what we have to do is ensure that we -- we together, the Afghans and the coalition forces -- undertake the kinds of protective measures which -- which we've been undertaking for some time, but we're putting greater emphasis on it now.  We need to emphasize that probably more during Ramadan.  Be careful -- be more careful about our force protection, be more watchful of the emergence of a threat, be able to respond more quickly to that threat rather than to pull back away from our Afghan partners. 

            It's important to understand that, while every one of these is a tragedy -- every one is a tragedy -- every single day in this battlespace there are tens of thousands of interactions of our general purpose forces, our special operations forces, and our advisory forces with the Afghans. And in the vast, vast majority of those instances and cases, the result of that interaction is a growing friendship and a deeper relationship.

            And that’s playing out in greater success in the battlespace -- more partnered operations, more Afghan-led operations. But that doesn't diminish the importance of this threat.  It doesn't diminish our ambition to understand it and to take the measures necessary on our side and with our Afghan friends, who are seized with this threat -- it's a threat to them as well as it's a threat to us. And they see it as a threat to us, and they're gripping it, as well.

            So we're going to look at how this fighting season has evolved. We're going to look at how our operations unfolded during Ramazan, and we'll make an evaluation after that.  But at this juncture, my initial belief is that we should not pull back in our contact with the Afghans.  We, perhaps, need to be more watchful, Afghans and coalition, for the emergence of a threat and be able to react quickly to that. 

            And I think that gets to the second part of your question, which is whether we believe that this threatens the overall efficacy of the strategy, of our advisory orientation, and I don't believe that it does.  At least, now based on our analysis, I do not believe that it does. 

            MR. LITTLE:  Spencer, and then Andrew Tilghman.

            Q:  General, I don't quite understand your point about the impact of Ramazan.  Ramazan, of course, is cyclical, and we haven't seen the kind of spike in green-on-blue attacks as we've seen over the last several weeks.  And we've heard from -- from you, from your predecessors, from your colleagues throughout the past couple years about how the op tempos on the -- on the ANSF has increased significantly.

            Could you explain a little bit more what you think the impact of Ramazan might be on -- on the green-on-blue spike?

            GEN. ALLEN:  Well, again, I want to be careful not to lay the blame for green-on-blue solely on Ramazan, but I think that the holy month of Ramazan demands great sacrifice of the Muslims who observe it.  And the idea that they will fast during the day places great strain on them. 

            As you know, Ramazan moves across the calendar each year.  And for this year, it was square in the middle of the fighting season.  This year, the ANSF was a larger force than it's ever been before.

            We were conducting very aggressive operations this calendar year. And even with reduced op tempo during Ramazan, where we tried to do it in the coolness of the morning or the coolness of the evening, did it closer to the period of time when the troops may have had access to water or to food, it was still during a very hot part of the season.

            So we take that as a potential reason -- not the reason for an upswing -- and so there are many different and complex reasons for why we think this may have increased.  We think Ramazan was a part of it. We don't think Ramazan was the principal reason, though. 

            Q:  General, hi, it's Andrew Tilghman with Military Times. One of the concerns I've heard expressed about these is the sense that, over the transition over the next 28 months, the force structure is going to change such that you're going to have more U.S. and NATO troops embedded in smaller numbers and in closer proximity to the Afghan forces.  And I'm wondering, I mean, in terms of just a force structure issue, is that a fair characterization?  And does that potentially increase the risk for these -- these kind of attacks moving forward? 

            GEN. ALLEN:  Well, Andrew, thank you.  That's an important question. As you heard me say a few minutes ago, what we have learned is that the closer we are to the Afghan formations, the closer the relationship, the deeper the friendships, the deeper the relationship.

            Now, to its great credit, the army and the Marine Corps have organized the forces that are coming here in purpose-built security force assistance brigades, the army in particular.  These brigades are organized together.  They are trained together in their pre-deployment training cycle.  When they arrive in theater, they prepare together. When the time comes, their security force assistance teams deploy from a central location tied into the brigade headquarters with communications, so there is constant coherence within that security force assistance brigade.

            And the teams originated back in the United States; they were built together out of this brigade.  The brigade provides command and control, fires, other support as is necessary.  So there's a real coherence to the employment of security force assistance brigades, which are deploying into the region now.  And we've actually been at this in terms of security force assistance teams since earlier this year.  Now, as time goes on and as our numbers come down, we will seek to continue to deploy those kinds of brigades, again, because they form together, they are a coherent brigade, with a distinctive patch, they'll deploy together, they'll have centralized command and control for support of the teams during the period of time that they are here. The teams will be employed with Afghan units in areas where they will understand those Afghan units and the operational environment before they get there.  They'll be employed together.  And then the brigade will redeploy together at the same time. 

            So this, I think, is an important approach.  And as our numbers come down and as our general purpose forces continue to diminish, we will see that our reliance on security force assistance brigades, which can still provide force protection, still provide command-and-control and fires, can still, in fact, partner with Afghans, as well as advise Afghans, we think that's an improvement in prior advisory approaches over the years, and we think it's exactly the approach we need to take now as time goes on, out through '13, as your question implied, and ultimately '14. 

            Now, the question for us will be, as time goes on, at what level we both partner and advise.  And eventually, as the numbers continue to come down, we will see our advisory effort move upward in terms of the Afghan hierarchy.  Some Afghan battalion-level formations will be advised for a long period of time, because those will be in those areas which will require close attention, probably because of the enemy threat, the difficulty of the terrain, the importance of the mission, and so on.

            But we may see that as our numbers come down there will be larger numbers of battalion- and even brigade-sized formations where our -- our security force assistance teams will depart an advisory mission. And so it will just be the physics of our force structure, but we're going to watch the entire battle space very closely and we'll allocate those forces based on where we see progress and also where we see the need to maintain pressure on the enemy in close partnership with the ANSF, as they continue to grow, as they continue to be fielded, as they continue to improve. 

            And it's worth reminding -- reminding the team in the Pentagon and, of course, the public in general that we're still in the recruiting phase of the ANSF.  They'll be at 352,000.  Our goal is by 1 October.  I think we'll be at that goal.  In fact, we're very close now.

            And then, during '13, we will still be training and forming, equipping and fielding elements of the ANSF so that the full ANSF is not fully in the field, not fully equipped until the end of '13.  So we've got work to do, and we will structure our advisory effort, we will contour it based on the operational conditions of '13, operational requirements of the battle space, and the needs of the ANSF as time goes on.

            MR. LITTLE:  Roz?

            Q:  Good day, General.  Rosalind Jordan with Al Jazeera English.  A larger question.  The so-called surge of coalition forces, is that drawdown now complete?  And looking ahead over the next 28 to 36 months, you made a reference to creating space so that civilian government and nongovernmental organizations could have the space to develop.  What does Afghanistan look like on January 1, 2015? 

            GEN. ALLEN:  On the 1st of January, 2015, we will see that the ANSF will have achieved its full strength of 352,000.  It will have been deployed across Afghanistan, having completed the process of transition, where it will be fully in the lead for the security of the entire Afghan population, and it will be deployed in a manner and in a way to continue to deal with the violence that we'll find on the 1st of January, 2015. 

            We will see that, as the security has continued to improve across the country, it has given the central government in Afghanistan and provincial governments, below the national level, it has given opportunity, it's provided opportunity for improved governance at the sub-provincial level, improved governance at the district level, which is really key for the Afghans, increasingly key even today. 

            In some areas of Afghanistan, where we have seen really dramatic improvements in security, this is now the moment for the Karzai administration to begin the process of concentrating on sub-provincial and district governance and the establishment of the rule of law. 

            We'll see on the 1st of January that as governance -- or as security has continued to improve that there will be increasing opportunities to improve the sub-national governance necessary, primarily at the district level, in some cases at the provincial level, to give the Afghan people the firm opportunity finally to make a choice and to commit themselves ultimately to the government. 

            On the 1st of January, we'll see a new administration.  The election will have occurred in the spring of 2014, and that election will usher into office the first democratically-elected government since the fall of the Taliban, beyond the Karzai administration. 

            So we will see a transition in '14 to a new administration and a new government, with a new president, and that president will have seen the period of time in the last 28 months and the last several years of the emergence of an Afghan national security force which is professional, which is willing to sacrifice mightily on behalf of the Afghan people to achieve a level of security that gives that new president and gives that new administration and the ministries and the judiciary the opportunity to truly become a part of and a factor in the lives of the Afghan people.

            And they'll also see on the 1st of January -- and I'm sorry to go on so long -- this is an important question -- that the international community is still with them, that the promises that were made by the heads of state of the ISAF coalition in Chicago to continue to support and sustain the ANSF, sustain it with the right amount of resources and to support it with some form of a international force in Afghanistan to provide for the continued professionalization and development of the ANSF.  So the Afghans will see the international community in Afghanistan continuing to grip and to improve and to partner with the ANSF. 

            And then the Afghans will see the interest of the international community in the context was promised in Tokyo and in Bonn II.  Bonn II talked about the decade of transformation, the decade that would follow the period of transition, and the decade of transformation will be where the international community, in close partnership with the new administration that will have been elected in 2014, will move forward to take advantage of the sacrifices that have been made by the troops of ISAF and the coalition, and increasingly the sacrifices that are being made every single day by the ANSF.  They will move forward together into the decade of transformation starting on the first day of January 2015, into what I believe will be a period of hope. 

            Lots of challenge still, challenge in the installation of governance, challenge in the embracing of the rule of law, challenge in rooting out corruption.  But I believe the Afghan people understand -- and we will prove that the international community will not abandon Afghanistan.  In the next 28 months, we'll continue to reinforce that so that as we transition from the 31st of December, 2014, to the 1st of January, 2015, the Afghan people have reason to be hopeful and they have reason to be proud of what has been accomplished by their ANSF and what will be accomplished of the ANSF as they buy the time and they buy the space for the improved governance, economic development, and the embrace of the rule of law by this new administration. 

            MR. LITTLE:  (off mic) one more question. Greg. 

            Q:  At the beginning of this fighting season, it looked like violence numbers were going down.  Now that we're almost through it, it looks like the attack numbers are about the same as 2011.  U.S. casualty numbers are about the same as 2011 for this fighting season. And I guess I'm curious what that tells us and whether that's a concern to you that we're continuing to see robust attacks even as we draw down. 

            GEN. ALLEN:  I would -- I'd qualify your question just a bit.  The -- as we measure them, enemy-initiated attacks, those numbers are down a bit.  They may not be statistically significant.  We see them down about three percent.  It is less about the numbers this fighting season than it is about the location. 

            And in so many of the places, the enemy-initiated attacks are, first and foremost, a reaction by the enemy to us.  We have pushed hard on the insurgency to push them out of the population centers, much of which was cleared last year, and we've continued to push them into a series -- an increasingly smaller series of areas, districts, where we have, in many respects, contained them.  They're on the defense. 

            Now, there's about 10 percent -- excuse me, 10 of the 405 districts across Afghanistan constitute about 50 percent of the violence across the country.  And about 20 percent -- I'm careful about statistics, because they do change from time to time, and George can provide -- George Little can provide you some of these numbers. We'll get them to him.  But 80 percent of the population of Afghanistan only experiences about 20 percent of the enemy-initiated activities. 

            And so this year, there was a number of enemy-initiated attacks that statistically looked similar to the numbers of last year.  The difference this year is that our operational tempo against the enemy was very high.  And much of those enemy-initiated attacks were in response to us.

            And so I think in this regard it has continued on track.  It has -- the campaign has continued in the manner that we envisaged that it would.  Our casualties are not the same as last year.  Our casualties -- and, again, George can get you the number -- are about 25 percent lower this time than they were last year, but the difference is that the Afghan casualties are higher this year.  They're higher because the Afghan force is a larger force.  They're higher because they are leading and partnering in far more of the operations than last year. They're higher, frankly, because the Afghans are in the attack.

            And so, in that regard, there is a significant change from this year, this year from last year. 

            MR. LITTLE:  All right, Jim and then final question. 

            Q:  Sir, Jim Garamone with AFPS.  As you do battlefield circulations, what do the soldiers and Marines say to you about these insider attacks?  And I guess really what the question would be, are these attacks hurting the morale of the people actually out there on the edge of the spear or the tip of the spear? 

            GEN. ALLEN:  I spend a lot of time -- I try to get out at least twice a week.  I spend a lot of time with the troops.  I think one of the signal reactions, while there is concern, one of the signal reactions is a very stalwart commitment to the mission.  You know, we're blessed in the U.S. military -- I mean, truly blessed -- with magnificent small unit leaders.

            And this is a tough mission.  It's a tough mission for a whole variety of reasons, not the least of which is the operational environment in which these troops have to fight and partner.  And so at the noncommissioned officer, staff noncommissioned officer, junior officer level, these troops are very well led.

            And where we have seen incidents of insider threats play out in terms of a green-on-blue attack, where those young noncommissioned officers and officers very quickly covered down on their Afghan partners, and where they led their troops through the crisis of the moment and through the -- the grief of the loss of their troops, where they led them personally gave them context on the importance of the mission, and closed the gap between the Afghans and the ISAF forces, we've seen that unit recover, we've seen that unit continue its mission with the Afghans. 

            Back several months ago during one of the crises, there was a shooting in one of our camps.  I got on a helicopter very quickly with General Karimi, their chief of defense, and we flew out to that camp to talk to the troops.  I talked to, in this case, American troops.  I talk to the U.S. troops and the Afghan troops.  And General Karimi did the same.

            And it was a very important moment.  It was one of the earlier of the attacks.  And it set, I think, both the standard and the condition that, in the aftermath of one of these events, it's going to be leadership that gets us through it, leadership that shows the troops the way, that it is not about vengeance or retribution.  It's about gripping the mission.  It's about understanding that while an Afghan pulled the trigger, the vast majority of the Afghans they know every day, in fact, are their brothers in this campaign and their brothers in this mission. 

            There have been other places where in the aftermath of one of these crises, one of our battalion commanders publicly and openly hugged his battalion -- his Afghan battalion counterpart, and that solved the problem right on the spot, and it -- it reduced the potential distance that might have emerged between our two forces. 

            So you're right to ask the question about morale.  You know, when it happens to a unit, it creates a moment of crisis.  But that crisis can be overcome and is usually overcome by the application of the great leadership that is the hallmark of our forces today, the magnificent young NCOs and junior officers, who are at the point of impact every single day in this campaign.  And I'm very proud of them.

            MR. LITTLE:  Final question.

            Q:  General, Otto Kreisher with Seapower Magazine.  There's still controversy over your attempt to increase the local police units and give them increased arms.  You've talked about, in 2015, the Afghan people will have to make a choice.  One of the choices they could make is to go back to the warlord days when each of those local police forces becomes an independent actor.  What's your concern about that? 

            GEN. ALLEN:  Well, as you know, we've worked very hard on this program called Village Stability and the Afghan Local Police. 

            I'll let this helicopter go by. 

            The ALP -- and we've recently passed 16,600 in this number -- the ALP is one of the most hated aspects of the ANSF by the Taliban, a whole variety of reasons for that.  If the Village Stability Operation program works -- and it does -- it is a mobilization of Afghans at the ground level, at the grassroots level, to take the business of their local security and their future into their own hands, elders, the local sheriff, agree ultimately to raising an Afghan local police force out of the sons of that village or that community.

            And in most cases -- not most, all cases -- when an ALP unit stands up, it is advised by U.S. special operators, and they provide for the training and the professionalization, they provide for the mentoring.  And all of the ALP units are tied into the ministry of interior, and they are tied into the local district chief of police. 

            Now, as time goes on and as our numbers come down, we will see that the role of the police will be even more important in maintaining the connectivity of the Ministry of Interior to the Afghan local police. 

            Now, we're working very hard -- I assure you we're working very hard to ensure the professionalization of the ALP, recognizing that, again, this is a grassroots movement, and so often the literacy rates are very low.  There will be tribal affinities; there will be local loyalties. 

            But the challenge for us -- and where I think we've been successful -- but there's much more work to be done -- is ensuring that the Ministry of Interior from the minister all the way down through the district chief of police and his police force are tied in closely to the ALP. 

            Now, I believe that if we continue on the route that we're on, which seeks to strengthen the bind -- the bonds between the ALP and the district, if we continue on that trajectory, on 1 January 2015, we will find that the ALP is, in fact, part of the force of the Ministry of Interior for local security and local policing and not a potential reservoir of foot soldiers for the local strongmen. 

            Now, your question is an important one, and it is something about which we -- we pay a lot of attention, and we're very cautious about this, and there have been ALP sites where our concerns about whether that site will be viable, whether that site will be coherent, have been such that we've either elected not to form it or we've disbanded it. 

            And so we're very careful about this, and we're extraordinarily careful -- and in particularly over -- particular over the next 28 months -- that we build those strong relationships between the ALP leaders, the village elders and the shura, with the district chief of police and the Ministry of Interior.  That is the secret.  That is the means by which we anticipate the ALP being part of the long-term security solution and not ultimately potentially part of a security problem after the beginning of 2015. 

            Very important question.  Thank you. 

            MR. LITTLE:  I'm told I have a very quick question seeking clarification from Bob Burns, and then we'll wrap things up.  Again, thank you for your time.

            Bob? 

            Q:  Yes, General, thank you for your time, also.  When you were initially describing the insider attack issue, you said that you believe roughly 25 percent could be attributed to Taliban activity or connections.  The Pentagon just a few days ago told us that your folks had looked at this and come up with a number of around 10 percent. I'm wondering how you can explain the difference -- is there a difference there?  Or what is it? 

            GEN. ALLEN:  Our -- our view is it's about 25 percent.  We think it's about 25 percent, Bob.  This is -- this still requires a lot of analysis.  And so if it's just pure Taliban infiltration, that is one number.  If -- if you add to that impersonation, the potential that someone is pulling the trigger because the Taliban have coerced the family members, that's a different number. 

            And so it's -- it's less about the precision of 25 versus 10 than it is acknowledging that the Taliban are seeking ultimately to have some impact in the formation -- and, Bob, I know you are aware that the Taliban try to take credit for every one of these attacks, whether it's a personal grievance or whether it was a successful infiltration.

            The number 10 or 25 is a number that we're going to continue to hone to get a better feel for this so that we really do have a sense of the size and the magnitude of the enemy threat in the ranks of the Afghan national security forces versus what could be issues associated with personal grievance, social difficulties, those kinds of things. And that's really important for us to understand that. 

            MR. LITTLE:  General Allen, thank you very much for taking time out of your very busy day to join us.  And I'd like to thank all of those who are here in the briefing room in Washington.

            Have a good day.