Chairman Cites Surge Success, Discusses U.S.-Pakistan Relations

WASHINGTON, Dec. 9, 2011 — The surge oper­a­tion in Afghanistan is a suc­cess that has accom­plished what it was designed to do, Army Gen. Mar­tin E. Dempsey told the Atlantic Coun­cil here today.

The chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said he is encour­aged by the suc­cess of the surge of 30,000 U.S. troops into the coun­try, and by the deci­sion Afghan lead­ers made dur­ing the recent loya jur­ga coun­cil meet­ing.

“They indi­cat­ed they need and want and aspire to a rela­tion­ship with us after 2014,” Dempsey said., but he added that he is not ready to say what will hap­pen after all the surge troops are with­drawn from Afghanistan in Sep­tem­ber.

News reports said Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, com­man­der of the Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force in Afghanistan, wants a pause before with­draw­ing more forces. Dempsey said offi­cials here and at U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand are study­ing pos­si­ble steps to take after the surge ends. All com­man­ders look at rec­om­men­da­tions for future actions through the lens of today’s expe­ri­ences, Dempsey said.

“If mis­sions change, if we estab­lish mile­stones, if we reassess and make any changes, then a com­man­der will do what he does,” Dempsey said. “He’ll say, ‘OK, if you want me to do that, here’s the troops-to-task analy­sis.’ ”

Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mat­tis, Cent­com com­man­der, and Allen are in con­stant con­tact, Dempsey said, and they keep each oth­er informed of any changes to their strate­gies.

Dempsey said he also wants to ensure that Amer­i­can and NATO forces are not hold­ing on to the mis­sion due to an excess of cau­tion over turn­ing secu­ri­ty respon­si­bil­i­ty over to the Afghans.

“We hold on to the bicy­cle seat some­times a lit­tle too long,” the gen­er­al said, mean­ing that like a con­cerned Dad, some­times a per­son just has to let a child ride the bike alone. All this will influ­ence the timetable for troop with­drawals from Afghanistan, the chair­man said.

Mean­while, a Nov. 26 bor­der inci­dent in which NATO fire killed 24 Pak­istani sol­diers near a bor­der cross­ing has inflamed already raw nerves inside Pak­istan, the chair­man said, and U.S.-Pakistani mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary rela­tions “are a mess.”

“I can absolute­ly say that it was­n’t some­thing that we did inten­tion­al­ly,” Dempsey said of the bor­der inci­dent. “Regret­tably, the Pak­istani mil­i­tary believes we did. We did not attack a Pak­istan mil­i­tary bor­der post inten­tion­al­ly. If you think we did, I’d have to ask you what in the world you’d think we would gain by doing that.”

Dempsey said he has spo­ken with Pak­istani Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ash­faq Parvez Kayani. Oth­er senior U.S. offi­cials have also spo­ken to their Pak­istani coun­ter­parts, urg­ing restraint and patience to let an inquiry board look into the inci­dent and present its find­ings, he said.

The Unit­ed States has invit­ed Pak­istan to par­tic­i­pate in review­ing the inci­dent, but Pak­istan has so far declined, Pen­ta­gon offi­cials said.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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