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Department of Defense Briefing by Lt. Gen. Anderson in the Pentagon Briefing Room via satellite from Afghanistan

COL. STEVE WARREN: Welcome members of the fourth estate. It's great to see you here.

Today we have a great honor to welcome to our briefing room the commander of the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, Lieutenant General Joe Anderson. General Anderson assumed command in Afghanistan in January of this year. Since January, we've seen Afghanistan go through tremendous transition, a new president inaugurated in Kabul, and Afghanistan's first democratic transition of power. The new Afghan government signed the bilateral security agreement. A NATO status of forces agreement will now make it possible for allies and partners to solidify their plans to contribute to the resolute support mission next year.

I'll moderate the questions from here. Understand that General Anderson cannot see you. Of course, we can see him. When I call on you, please call General Anderson out by identifying for him who you're with, name, and then I'll remind you that because of the satellite connection, there's about five-second delay. So please factor that in as you're talking and pausing.

We've got about 20 to 30 minutes to get through this. And with that, General Anderson, I'll turn it over to you for opening remarks. Sir?

LT. GEN. JOSEPH ANDERSON: Okay, Steve, thanks. It's good to be with you all. Thanks for coming out tonight, for me, this morning, for you.

Just a couple of quick – nondescript -- just a couple quick messages for you here about where we are, where we think we're going to hopefully help you with some of your questions.

Right up front, the Afghan national security forces are winning, and this is a hugely capable fighting force who have been holding their ground against the enemy. We've described 2014 as the year of change. That seems to be the only thing that's been constant here, has been change. The Afghan national security forces, remain about 352,000. It's about a 156 army, 155 police split. They have secured all of the election process and maintained a steady operational tempo throughout this fighting season.

The insurgents have had minimal effects on the elections. They did conduct a total of 761 attacks, but only about 174 of those were effective, effective meaning it hurt, did damage to someone or something. Throughout the entire election process, the ordered recount in a fighting season we've been in a close air support business. The intelligence surveillance reconnaissance business, the quick reaction force business, helping with command and control, advisers and some sustainment support.

The BSA, the Bilateral Security Agreement, and the NATO Status of Forces Agreement were a major setback for the insurgents here this past month.

The ANSF has been in the lead for the entire year. I think that you all know that --


LT. GEN. ANDERSON: -- executed 940 total operations this year, which is -- they're averaging four to five more times attacks per week than last year, very, very significant.

And this year, the Taliban have failed to achieve tactical superiority over the ANSF. They have matched some forces in a few provinces districts, but they were not able to hold them. They were beaten back. By the way, the -- their initiated attacks are down this year from around 24,000 to 18,000.

The ANSF has sustained about a 6.5 percent increase in casualties this year, 46-34 this year versus 43-50 killed in action last year. We expected that actually to be much higher based on the role they've played and where they've been. So overall, fairly stable in comparison to last year.

In the transition arena, we, as I think you all know, we are downsizing. We started off with 54,000 service members here when I took over in January, from 48 nations. We're now down to 38,000 soldiers from 44 nations, 27,000 of which are American.

We'll get down to 12,500 here by the end of the year, which will be the 9,800 U.S. commitment. And again, we expect about 26 other nations to provide forces as well. This will be a mixture of advisers, force protection soldiers and enabler providers like close-air support and ISR.

We are heavily in the base closure transition process. We started with 86 at the beginning of the year. We're down to 26 and we shut one more down next week and we're done.

At the same time as the troop drawdown, we've been retrograding, redeploying, destroying and transferring equipment to the ANSF -- ANSFF, ANSF. We have reduced 21,000 pieces of rolling stock; about 1.7 million pieces of non-rolling stock; and retrograded and divested some others. And we've also on the foreign excess personal property, about $620 million worth of equipment has been transferred.

We're on glide-path to get to 31 December for Resolute Support, and as of yesterday, you probably some of the stories today, we transitioned our last regional command to a train-advise-assist command in the east, so we no longer have regional commands here in Afghanistan. Next month is when IJC will merge into ISAF, and then ISAF will take over operational control of all ground forces.

So lots of progress. The mission is not done. What Resolute Support is all about is trying to get the Afghans above the tactical level to the operational and strategic level. The advisers will focus on the ministerial and institutional levels to work systems, processes, and professionalize the force. We focused those efforts along eight essential functions. That's everything from planning, programming, budgeting, execution, to sustainment, to planning.

The keys are going to be the cross-(inaudible) -- coordination between the army, the police and the NDS, working their intelligence systems and processes, and the continued development of the Afghan air force. Strategic issues remain forecasting logistical requirements and the budgeting process.

So I'll wrap up here, and ready to take your questions. The Afghans are thankful for our efforts and support. They're getting after it. They're doing very, very well tactically. Next year, the challenges will be focusing on what I just described, but it's also going to be a year of great opportunity.

COL. WARREN: Thank you, sir. We'll go -- we'll take our first question to Phil Stewart from Reuters.

Q: Yeah, hi, general. Thanks for doing this.

Could you give us an update on where things stand in the fight against the Haqqanis? I know that there's been operations across the border in Pakistan. There was a successful arrest in Afghanistan of one of Haqqani's sons several weeks ago. How do you see the threat posed by Haqqani? Does the fusion cell set up last year or early this year still exist? Where do things stand?

Thank you.

LT. GEN. ANDERSON: Okay, thank you.

Well, the Haqqani Network is one of the many threat streams that continue to affect us here in Afghanistan. And as you know, Haqqani Network is focused more on the high profile attack like the large vehicle borne explosives, those types of attacks.

Right now, the efforts of the ANSF are very focused on that. There's also the SOF component focused on the Haqqani. And again, we are in the enabler business in supporting what the ANSF does. Basically, there's about six today about six threat streams based on that network trying to work their way into Kabul. They're very Kabul-centric. Obviously, as you mentioned, the border -- the do come in from the east.

They are fractured. They are fractured like the Taliban is. That's based pretty much on the Pakistan ops and North Waziristan this entire summer-fall. That has very much disrupted their efforts here and has caused them to be less effective in terms of their ability to pull off an attack here in Kabul.

Q: (inaudible) -- to support the idea that they become less effective and that the operations have disrupted them? Could you give us any examples of how you have operational reporting about -- to support that?

LT. GEN. ANDERSON: Say that one again, please. That one came in a little broken.


LT. GEN. ANDERSON: Okay, now I can -- whoever just spoke, I can hear you.

Q: Any specific examples to help illuminate how the threat has been diminished.

LT. GEN. ANDERSON: Well, the examples are been what the ANSF in fact has been in terms of their security operations. So they've been able to secure the major road networks. They've worked the border crossings and they've kind of worked a layered ebb and flow based on all the different events that have transpired since the summertime.

But they've worked a layered approach to protect Kabul. But I think -- I think the successes, the finds they've made in the -- in the -- how they prevented the large vehicles explosives from getting in here and also hitting many of the caches and things like that where they've disrupted their efforts before they've been able to put an attack together.

Q: Hi, general, Jon Harper with Stars and Stripes.

Are the ANSF capable of going into Taliban strongholds and reclaiming territory?

Or is their objective after U.S. troops draw down basically to hold the line and prevent the Taliban from taking over even more territory?

And also post-2014, where will the U.S. air support come from?

Will that come from assets and bases in country?

Or will that come from locations in the region or U.S. aircraft carriers?

LT. GEN. ANDERSON: The second question first. That'll be -- the air assets will come from a combination. There will be still assets here in theater and then, of course, there's always theater-wide assets.

They come from outside the country to do the same thing based on what types of operations are being conducted here, what has to be supported from a force protection capability for the coalition to in extremist or, you know, catastrophic strategic implication type things for the ANSF.

So a combination of both.

The first question, they've done both. They've demonstrated in Doha, Visserat, Sangin, many different district centers, that they have the capability to go back in and reclaim ground. They've done that -- estimates vary from 6-10 times since the summer in a variety of places from Helmand, Nangarhar, Ghazni, et cetera. So they've demonstrated their ability to do that.

But along with that, they're also trying to ensure presence back to that layer, defense I was just explaining about the Haqqani piece, about how they're trying to ensure that they maintain freedom of movement, places like Highway 1 and Wardak, Ghazni and in some of the more contested areas, Northern Helmand, Northern Zabul, Southern Ghazni, Kunar, Kunduz and some of those provinces.

So they've been able to do that multiple times since this summer.

Q: Thank you.

COL. WARREN: (inaudible) -- go ahead.

Q: Dan DeLuce from AFP. Just wanted to follow up on what you were talking about close air support. So if I understand correctly, you're saying that the main focus of close air support in the future will be force protection.

And it would be an exceptional circumstance to use close air support in support of the ANSF.

Is that correct?

LT. GEN. ANDERSON: That's right. Those authorities have yet to be defined. The right of force protection's going to be the number one use of those assets. Remember in 2015, the ANSF has full responsibility. So as they keep working their MI-17 program, their MI-35 program, the MD-530s, the A-29s, all the things that they're trying to complement, supplement, air weapons teams, that will be their version of close air support.

What's yet to be defined explicitly will be coalition assets in support of ANSF, based on what types of operations they're doing and, again, what the strategic consequences may be based on where they find themselves, what situations they get into, based on what the enemy threat evolves into here for 2015.

Q: And just to follow up -- follow up on air power, what about medical evacuations? What -- it -- will it be the same case where it would be more of an exception or rare case that there was a air evacuation for ANSF soldier, for example?

LT. GEN. ANDERSON: Well yes, the bottom line is they're doing it now. So medevac, casevac, 88 percent of all medevac-casevac right now is done by the ANSF. That's not necessarily by air, though. That's a combination of air and ground. But we provide very limited, very limited support to them and the casevac, essentially since summer time on. And they -- they -- they have full responsibility for that essentially now.

Q: Hi, general. This is Courtney Kube from NBC News. General Campbell gave an interview several days ago where he said that he's currently assessing whether there will be enough U.S. troops, U.S. and coalition troops, in 2015 and 2016 to make sure that the Afghan security forces are ready to take on security for the entire country after all the rest of the coalition forces have left.

Are you part of any kind of -- a formal assessment? Are you providing him information? I guess, is -- is there an assessment that's going on right now to determine whether the -- the 9,800 number U.S. troops plus the additional several thousand coalition forces whether that needs to be increased even temporarily going into 2015?

LT.GEN. ANDERSON: Yeah, I am not part of that assessment process, there -- I mean, the assessment process is a logical, natural thing that we all do based on the environment here. And again, as we're dealing with contributing -- troop contributing nation numbers and -- and as our footprint draws down, the -- the bottom line that we're focused on, at IJC, is the base plan, the base we've been working all year, which was to get to the final footprint, the final numbers, and the four-plus-one platform, which is the north, west, south, and east, and the Kabul-centric platform.

That is what we have been steering towards all year, all around elections, and run-offs, and audits, and fighting season. And that has not changed for us. The issue will be based on who provides what at the end of the year and what that means. And, of course, the government of Afghanistan, the current president's concerned about the time they've lost based on no BSA being signed, no SOFA being signed for the majority of the year, and the election process, how much time that took.

So there are -- there are people concerned about what we've lost because of all that. But our focus has been on the enabling business for the fighting season; the train-advise-assist business; institutionalization; all the functions I described earlier with the enablers; and getting all the retrograde redeployment to the base plan that was designed from the beginning of the year, which has not changed up till December 31.

Q: The Afghan security forces have lost -- I think that the article said that it was six to eight months of time because of the -- the delay in the BSA.

Does that concern you at all that they've lost that time and that may set them back operationally?


LT. GEN. ANDERSON: I don’t think it set them back operationally, but set them back strategically from the ministerial platform. It's cost them a lot of money. It's cost them time to get their systems in place. That's everything from pay rolls to contracts, to budgets, to logistical forecasting. So it's been all that process cost them more money. It cost them more time.

But what it did demonstrate time and time again through all the security -- way back from the loya jurga back in November of '13 to the Ghazni Islamic festival, (inaudible), the opening of parliament, election, run-off, audit process, the presidential inauguration, through all of those major events throughout the year, they maintained steady and capable in the midst of a fighting season non-stop.

So I -- I don't think it set them back. It made them all the more better in terms of command and control, combined arms integration. We talked about medevac, casevac a little while ago -- fires, integration of air, sustainment, intelligence, all categories have improved based on all those things they did all year.

So the -- the part that they've lost was a development -- institutionalization. It cost them people going to school. It cost professional development and all those systems I described earlier. That's what resolute support will provide next year to enhance that capability at the ministerial level and from those core platforms where the -- where the core headquarters are as the center of the ANSF in each of those regions to build those systems processes, organizations. But the tactical operational piece, a very solid steady performance throughout 2014.

Q: General, Dave Martin with CBS. Just to clarify from Courtney's question, is there any consideration being given to changing that 9,800 base number?

And second, when you outlined all the tasks that the 9,800 would do, you did not mention special operation forces and counter-terrorism. Is the -- does the counter-terrorism mission for the United States end on December 31st?

LT. GEN. ANDERSON: It does not. I do not -- the counterterrorism piece and the special ops piece is not the stuff that I command here. That's under General Campbell and Major General Ed Reeder. But that mission does continue. And again the same question about authorities, in terms of what their authorities will be post-2015 are still being worked out. But that is not -- that is not -- the reason why I didn't mention that specifically. It does exist, but that's not the realm that I command and control here.

The 9,800 number is the number and that's the number that we're moving towards on December 31st. And anything beyond that number is not in my ballpark. So I -- I am not involved with anything different than, as I said to you guys, the base plan.

Q: The 9,800 does not include special operations forces. They -- whatever numbers they are would be in addition to 9,800.

LT. GEN. ANDERSON: No, the 9,800 hundred is all U.S., and then the coalition issue will be 2,500 to 2,700 -- whatever the troop-contributing nations finalize, up to about 12,500 is the combined 26-nation and U.S. number; 9,800 of which is the U.S., which does include the CT numbers.

Q: General, Cheryl Pelleren from DOD News.

Can you -- what -- can you name what kind of troops are going to be needed after 2014? And -- exactly -- and are you going to have to extend the institutionalization process past 2014? And did you expect to?

LT. GEN. ANDERSON: Yes, we do. The institutional process is going to take they kind of got a gap. They've got the senior -- the senior corps of guys who've been around a long time and you've got this very young, up and coming young junior officer field. They're National Defense University out there, which consists of their -- their basic. They have -- they're a combination of officer candidate school-equivalent, a U.S. military academy-equivalent, and a Sandhurst equivalent.

So you go to university and go for one year and get commissioned, versus four years military versus taking -- taking college practical application and going through a modified program to get commissioned, normally with prior service enlisted service. So they have all those combinations. They have a sergeant-major's academy. They have all -- they have all the equivalent schools that we have in our country, and they are trying to enhance, expand and make them as meaningful, effective, and as best qualified as they can for their force.

So there are -- there are advisers that are going to -- you asked what types of people are going to be here, there are people specifically here just for the institutional training piece to help all the different schoolhouses from police, from the army, all the basic courses. Those types of programs are going to be alive and well and there will be people dedicated just to that.

Then there will be advisers at the core platforms, which again are going to be a combination primarily of combat arms-type people who help work them through their operational-type stuff. But then there will be specialists coming in for sustainment, budget, installation, infrastructure, management, contracting, personnel systems. And the Afghan human resource information management system called ARIMS is being fielded, which helps them account for people.

It makes direct pay. It actually -- when soldiers get paid now, it goes right to a bank, versus through anybody's hands. So it helps with corruption, accountability. Lots of those systems' processes are all going to take certain specialties to help move these -- move the core platforms and the ministerial interior, defense, move them along further here in the capital.

So it will be a variety of -- and of course, then you're going to have your standard intel personnel here working with, you know, at reduced intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance. There's going to be airmen here, joint tactical air controllers doing as we were talking about earlier, the close-air support and helping with the -- with the Afghan air force, with the fielding of the -- a lot of the A-29 training will occur in the States.

But the fielding of that equipment here in the next year or two, but getting air -- Afghan air traffic controllers, air tactical controllers, air liaison officers -- all those different fields will be included in these -- in these, as we say, these regional core platforms and the Kabul-centric platform.

Q: Thank you, general.

The future of the Afghan economy has a lot to do with the success of the Afghan government and the Afghan military, and there was a report that just came out in the past few hours that the Pentagon had tried to work with Iran to help boost the economy in Afghanistan. Can you tell me a little -- can you confirm that that was the case? And if not, which countries has the Pentagon and the military been reaching out to try to help boost the Afghan economy as we're pulling out?

LT. GEN. ANDERSON: Yeah, I'm going to need your help. A lot of background noise on that. Can you -- I'm not sure where you're standing. Can you try that again? I know it's about the economy. I couldn't get most of what you said.

Q: The Afghan economy is crucial to the Afghan military and Afghan government's success. And I had seen reports in the past few hours about the Pentagon and the military working with or trying to work with Iran to help boost Afghanistan's economy. And I wanted to say -- to ask you, can you confirm that? And if not, what countries has the Pentagon and the military been reaching out to try to boost the Afghan economy?

LT. GEN. ANDERSON: Okay, I think I got most of it. The issue is what we're trying to do to help with the economic situation here. I think that was the gist of your question. It was still coming in very broken.

I mean, the bottom line is the trust in the institutions and the security to allow investment. Obviously through all the forms that have been held, all of the dialog to include the summit -- the summit in Wales back in September, validated what people's -- people's -- other countries' nations' interests are in terms of support here.

The key is to have credibility in the institutions to promote that, and of course there'll be -- I'm going to assume, the economy piece of things here is not -- obviously not the area that I spend most of my time on. The issue other nations making bilaterals and making contributions like what they're doing at the -- you know, the academy piece is the U.K. -- the U.K. working their education piece, their -- our other examples where different nations provide in the medical arenas, working with the military hospitals and civilian hospitals and there are many examples, but I'm not -- I'm not the expert in who's providing what. The key thing is making sure they have the opportunity to based on the environment here.

And I -- and again, the countries that are coming in as the framework nations, the Germans, the Italians, the Turks, obviously the Americans, and what we're doing on each of these platforms here in the north, the west, the south, the east here in Kabul, all contribute to the security arena, the $5.2 billion to sustain the ANSF, and then all the other things that are going on in terms of supporting particular aspects of their development, training, professionalization, if that makes sense.

Q: Talks with Iran about helping with the economy. Because you mentioned the Germans, the Italians, the Turks, but there were reports that Iranians were being discussed with for futures with pharmacies and whatnot. Were you aware of any of that?

LT. GEN. ANDERSON: Yeah, did you ask about -- you're coming in really bad. Did you ask about the Turks?

COL. WARREN: There was a report in the Wall Street Journal today about Iran contributing to Afghan economy. The question is if you can confirm that or if you can remark on Iran's contribution to the Afghan economy.

LT. GEN. ANDERSON: I cannot comment. I don't know anything about Iran's contribution to Afghanistan.

COL. WARREN: We've got time for two.

Q: Sir, Richard Sisk from Can you describe what the situation is now in the Sangin down in Helmand? Is that one of the areas where you mentioned earlier that the Taliban have been able to reclaim ground?

And if you could, sir, could you describe how cooperation, coordination with ANSF, has that improved now that President Karzai is gone and you've got President Ghani?

LT. GEN. ANDERSON: Okay. I heard the first part pretty clear. I think you asked about the current situation in Helmand. Helmand is pretty much based on the Marines, retrograde from the north down to Central Helmand, exposed Sangin, Nauzad, Kajacki. That whole area which began end of June, beginning of July was right after the runoff. Some of the checkpoints have been -- that were established for the election have been abandoned.

They did get to make some inroads in terms of the district center, principally in Sangin. But through a collaborative effort of the ANSF, early July, mid-July all that was retaken. There's been a couple different movements there by different pillars, including commandos and some other assets there that got involved throughout the course of the summer. But to maintain the security there under the efforts of the 215th Corps, the ANCOP, the border police and the uniformed police.

So that -- that was an evolving, ongoing thing post-runoff which in the end, again, the ANSF did retake control, regain control. It did take -- it did take a couple of weeks and it take a lot of assets. It took a lot of ISR. It took a lot of enablers, but that sorted itself out by -- by end of the summer and that remains the case there now with General Malouk and the 215th Corps heavily in control of northern Helmand.

He's repositioned some forces and they've maintained that ability now into here in November.

I did not -- the second part of your question, I didn't get any of it.

COL. WARREN: Relations have improved with the Afghan central government since the transition to a new president.

 LT. GEN. ANDERSON: Okay. General -- the generals have all been engaged with their new leadership. President Ghani has been -- he's gone out and congratulated them. He's empowered them. He's gone to hospitals to go see the wounded. He's popped in police stations at 11 o'clock, midnight to see what folks are doing on duty.

 But he's been very grateful and thankful of the ANSF for all those things I described, what they've accomplished here this past year. And he's been very engaged, heavily engaged with the leadership of the police, of the army, in dialogue with corps commanders, provincial chiefs of police. He addressed each of the ministers' conferences a couple weeks ago and the combined conference between the police and the army.

 So there's been a lot more enhanced dialogue, a lot more communication, and a lot more support of their efforts to enhance security here in the country.

COL. WARREN: Sir we will take one more question and then go to closing comments.

Q: General, it's Louis Martinez of ABC News.

Going back to your opening statement, sir, I heard you say some figures about casualties. And I want to verify that there were fatalities, all of them. If you could do the -- interpretation, colonel. I added up and it comes up to 9,000 over two years. How can that possibly be sustainable for the ANSF if they're all fatalities? And what was the baseline before two years ago?

LT. GEN. ANDERSON: All right, Steve, I think -- I think he was asking casualties, but can you -- that's all I could hear.

Q: The two-year totals that he got -- that he provided. I think he said they were fatalities. I added them up in my head. It comes out to 9,000, almost 9,000 over two years.

How can that possibly be sustainable for the ANSF? And what was the baseline before two years ago?

COL. WARREN: The question on casualties, you mentioned 9,000 casualties. The question is was that killed in action? Was the 9,000 deaths in two years? And if so, how could that possibly be sustainable? And what was the previous baseline to compare it to?

LT. GEN. ANDERSON: Yeah, the data -- the data I gave you, it was -- it was killed in action, 4,350 for 2013 and 4,634 for 2014. Those are -- those are killed in action. No, this is not sustainable. So the issue they're having between attrition, they're averaging around -- their goal is a 1.4 percent AWOL rate between the army and police. The army's gone down some. The police have gone up some.

But the bottom line, their first priority right now is to get their recruiting back up and to -- you'll hear lots of talk about organizational restructure, the tashkils, make it to the -- which is their manning document, to get their manning document filled to their numbers. The police are about 89 percent and the army is about 81 percent fill. So, they're reorganizing their headquarters. They're working how they're recruiting and they have to also work everything fundamentally, particularly on the police side, their tactics, techniques, procedures for how they protect them self with their equipment, with their counter-IED, that -- that's their individual protective equipment. That's their counter-IED equipment to make sure they have less casualties due to IEDs. It's a -- it's a combination of all of the above.

But they do need to decrease their casualty rate. They've done -- as we talked earlier about their MEDEVAC capabilities, how you continue to improve quality of care at the point of injury all the way through evacuation to a hospital. All those things have to continue to improve to reduce those numbers because those numbers are not sustainable in the long term.

Q: To the last piece of that question, do you -- do you have comparable figures for, you know, prior -- for prior years to get a sense for the trends on -- on killed in action?

LT. GEN. ANDERSON: I don't know if I brought how far back I brought. Hold on a sec. Yeah, we can -- that -- I've only got -- with me, I only have the -- because we were comparing the year they took the lead as they get to full responsibility. So all -- all -- we do have data for a multiple of years back, and we can get that back. But all I -- all I have with me is the last two because we were comparing in the lead the full responsibility. That was the comparison for us this past year.

COL. WARREN: Closing remarks, we'll take them.

LT. GEN. ANDERSON: Okay, yeah, just to reinforce three things, if you will. The -- the ANSF is winning. I hope I gave you enough examples. They are the most trusted government organization in Afghanistan. They are trying to provide time and space for this society to grow and -- and reduce the insurgency.

But as the events of -- of -- as things progress here, like the first democratic transition of power, we have to continue to watch what the objectives are going to be of -- of the insurgency and how we try to ensure that the ANSF helps establish legitimacy here in the country.

I want to reinforce the coalition's efforts have not been in vain. Through international organizations and many contributing nations, education, free press, telecommunications, all these things are going very well. We can -- we can see the benefits of this new democrat-elected government taking shape. It is very optimistic here. There is more capability. There is more accountability.

And there's more opportunity than we've seen in the past year -- 7.9 million primary, secondary kids going to school, more girls. Literacy rate is now 30 percent, very, very good, which is up from 12 during Taliban rule. Internet, cell phone use, all these things continue to make a difference here.

And as you all asked as we look at the 70 donor countries, the issue will be what -- what things they tend to grab onto based on stability and security thriving here and people seeing again progress, forward progress.

Lastly, as I said, there's still -- there's still progress to be made. And again, the core ministerial levels will be the focus. We will develop institutions. We will work to make a sustainable, capable military force. The key is to maintain a tactical overmatch over the Taliban and ask them to become ever more important as the coalition footprint reduces by December 31 and reduces again at the end of '15.

Thanks for your questions. Thanks for your -- your attendance, and thanks for your attention.

COL. WARREN: Sir we thank you for your time and look forward to you back here at home station. That's the Pentagon out.