ADM. MICHAEL MULLEN: (In progress) – more about your great country. Usually that happens in the question and the answer, rather than hearing myself speak. As I return to Pakistan for what has been many, many trips, I’m here, one, because I care a lot; two, because in some ways the history of the relationship between our countries, which has certainly gone up and down. And I’m honestly not here to revisit history. I guess in some ways, I’m here to write history for the future, which sees a future that is stable, friendly, supportive partners. And I really am here with that in mind. (News Story I Video I Pictures)
As we were walking out of the office, one, I think maybe, was Gen. Yousef (sp) called me a general. These days, with what I’m involved in, I consider that a compliment. (Laughter.) I don’t get to spend much time with my Navy anymore, but I’ve spent a lot of time with my Army and with my Marine Corps.
Also, as I come here, I come at a time that I know is very difficult for your and your country – not just your military, but your people – and would want to pass my thoughts, prayers, condolences for your losses, and in particular the recent loses that have struck so close to you as the military, as well as mindful that there were 16 children that were killed that day. And it is that threat – actually, it’s not even a threat; it’s a reality. That reality, which I think we have very much in common and that, together, I’m very comfortable we can address, and apart, I worry a great deal as to whether we can or not.
So I would like to actually talk about just a couple of things this evening. First of all – and I mentioned the number of trips. And actually, before I was in this job, I had only been to Pakistan once. I had been by Pakistan a lot, because I’ve been in and out of the Gulf in my naval career, but I had only been here once.
And what is very clear to me, as I returned then and returned a couple years ago and then many times, is the lack of trust between our countries. And there are lots of reasons for that, and I actually understand that, and rather than dwell on that, it is really my intent, or certainly my personal and professional goal to build a future that essentially re-establishes that trust, which we did at one time have – and in particular, the importance of that, between our militaries.
As we were discussing before, the competition for you to get into this distinguished university is very keen. And you, in very short order – those of us in the front row, certainly a couple of us – we won’t be here much longer. That’s just a fact. And it will be in the very near future when you will lead your military in what is an increasingly challenging century. And one of my goals would be to, in my time, try to set the course of our relationship on a steady one, on a consistent one and on a positive one.
We were discussing, also on the way in, that 2 years ago, in fact, it was Adm. LeFever that was with many of your leaders at the height of that tragedy and the earthquake, where that response by your military and certainly the international assistance meant so much to the Pakistani people. And in the end, this is about our people; it’s about Pakistani citizens, American citizens and actually citizens in the region and throughout the globe. And that’s what really motivates me.
So I would ask you to think in your time here, and this is a time, at least in my own country, where hard-working individuals get a year to think, work, they’re a little better-rested than in their normal working jobs. They’re able to think and think bigger thoughts about how we should move ahead. And one area that I actually think about is how we should move ahead. And probably more than anything else, is how do we fill up that trust deficit. And I recognize that sanctions existed from 1999 to 2002, and that changed.
We’re not all the way back, nor would I expect us to be next year. But the reason I asked to do this, and the reason – and I very much appreciate the opportunity to spend a few minutes with you, because I think it’s so important to invest in our future, and you’re the future. I do this frequently in my own country, and it is that future which is so critical, and your leadership of it, which is equally critical.
So how to build up the trust between our two countries is, I think, absolutely vital. And it’s got to be led; it’s not going to be natural; it’s not going to happen without a lot of hard work. And whatever your individual area of expertise is, somewhere around this pay grade or this seniority, our principal responsibility becomes to lead. It isn’t where we came from; it wasn’t my expertise in a certain in a certain area. We’ve become responsible to lead in a much broader way than we have in the past.
And leaders have to take wise, and my times bold steps. And leaders have to take risks. They have to take – I mean measured risks: thoughtful risks, but risks they have to take. And I worry a great deal about a time where leaders who contract, who were in positions of leadership, actually don’t do that, because I think that is an opportunity, too often, to return to the past. And things are changing so much, not just here in your country and the region. I think globally that leaders have to be out, and be bold and be looking to the future, and leading change, which is very, very difficult.
Of all the leadership requirements that are out there, leading in a time of change is the most difficult; leading when everything is steady, no change, everything’s running – that’s much easier. And those days are gone, I believe. So more than anything else, the trust piece and how we lead at a time when that trust has been broken and we’re working hard to restore it. And that’s a two-way street. It’s got to be a two-way street.
And we need to know as much as possible about each other. I’m a big believer – and maybe this is just my background, because I was all over the world when I was so young – but I’m a big believer in trying to see problems and challenges through other people’s eyes, not through mine. I think as we look through our own eyes, it becomes – they are filtered in certain ways, and so I work hard and try to listen, learn – what I call listen, learn and lead. But listening to challenges from people all over the world, certainly that’s been one of my goals here in my many visits, and engages with you and your leadership.
So that really is just one thought. And then the other thought I’ll just make a few comments about. The recent strategic review, which occurred over the course of the last three months, and I applaud both the review, the debate, the extent of it, the depth of it, because I don’t know if it’s the biggest single decision that President Obama will make as an American president in his first term, but it certainly will be one of the top two or three that he makes. And so, that we took this long, and deliberated and debated, and very carefully reviewed our assumptions and what the outcome was, is fitting, first of all.
Secondly, I think if you look at him, both in his speech at West Point and as importantly, his speech at Oslo, the combination of those two speeches says an awful lot about him as our president, and how he feels and looks at the world right now, as well as – and he’s made many speeches, but another one that I think is equally significant was his Cairo speech. And it’s, again, leading in a very, very complex time.
So we gave this review the extensive time and effort and intellect that it deserved, first of all. Secondly, there was great, great fanfare, great discussion, great focus on the number of troops, period. I just wanted to assure you that there was a lot more that went into it than the number of troops. If I were to use an example that I think all of us might understand, I would look at the needs right now in South Waziristan, after the operations, far exceed what the military is normally trained to do.
The needs in Afghanistan, as we look at the strategy, far exceed what the military can do, and said for a significant period of time, that we can add all the troops in the world, but if we don’t get the governance piece working, if we don’t get the corruption under control, if we don’t get jobs created for the everyday Afghan citizen, then the number of troops won’t make a difference.
So we spent a lot of time on that, and you I’m sure heard the main goal is to get at the al-Qaida leadership, the safe havens that are principally here in Pakistan, but in the border area, and ensure that Afghanistan does not turn into a country where that could occur again. And we do this with exquisite intelligence on their planning, exquisite intelligence on their intent, and understanding what their resources are, and an al-Qaida that is not what it was a few years ago, but an al-Qaida that is still extremely lethal.
And the other thing that I have certainly seen in this region, in particular, since I have made my visits here to Pakistan, has been the amalgamation and collaboration, the cooperation, coordination, of the many terrorist groups that operate in this part of the world. And I don’t care if that’s al-Qaida, the Afghan Taliban, the TTP, the LET, JUD, JEM, you name it. They’re all working more closely together than they were a couple years ago. I do not, certainly, claim that they are great friends, but they are collaborating in ways that quite frankly, scare me quite a bit.
So there was visibly a great deal of focus on the number of troops, and I can certainly talk to that. And I’ve discussed this with Gen. Kayani well ahead of time, also specifically ahead of time, what the strategy was, what was going to happen, and I do share with him an awful lot of what we’re doing. And I am reminded, for all of us, that nobody likes surprises, and that we all ought to be thinking about, how do we make sure our friends aren’t surprised, whether it’s individually, or militarily, or two countries?
So again, there was a great deal of focus on Afghanistan, and because of the challenges that we have there that are different than the challenges here, obviously, in your country. But I want to assure you that the time we spent, we spent an extraordinary amount of time trying to make sure our strategy for Pakistan was right as well. We didn’t just assume that; we understand the criticality of the relationship, the value of the relationship, and quite frankly, the need to have an enduring relationship that is one both of us can depend on, because of the criticality of the region.
So there was an awful lot of effort that was put into that as well, and it will exceed just the relationship between our militaries, because it’s an important one in our government. I was, on the one hand taken aback. On the other hand, I understood the hue and cry, certainly, the public discussion, both in the press, as well as some of the public pronouncements with respect to the Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill. And one of its great strengths, as far as I’m concerned wasn’t the amount of money, which is a lot of money; it was the fact that it was 5 years and it wasn’t 1 year.
And that really signals, from my government, not just the president or not just the head, not just me – it signaled a long-term commitment, which was a very important part of that. But I also –a gain, I understand, based on some of the specifics, why there was some objection to that. I also understand that public admonition doesn’t work. It doesn’t work – actually, to me, it doesn’t work individually as a leader in your unit or in your command. We’ve all been taught if you praise in public, then you admonish in private. And it doesn’t work nationally or internationally as well.
So there are – that doesn’t mean that all 535 members of my Congress understand that. It would be like all of your parliament understanding that as well. And they’re individuals and they speak, obviously, for their constituency and, obviously, with their beliefs. But as much as I have learned over the last 2 years about your country, I also learned there’s a great deal more to learn. Each time I come here, I learn a great deal, but I also know that my – most likely, my deficit has increased rather than decreased, because of the enormous complexity, not just of your country, but of the region. And yet, the criticality of the region can’t be overemphasized.
There is also, as my president has rolled out his strategy, there’s also been a great discussion about July 2011. So let me tell you how that happens, because it really was – it’s really a military date, not the political date someone might attribute it to. In our discussions, in our debate, it’s very clear that, given the right resources, we’ll know how this is going to go in Afghanistan by that time period.
And there’s just no doubt in any senior military officer, whether it’s McChrystal or Petraeus or myself or others, including all the joint chiefs in our military, that we will know whether this is the right strategy or not by the. So literally, that date got identified by the military and it was based on the fact that our Marines, specifically, have been in Helmand since July of this year. They had a big positive impact where they’ve been. We think the counterinsurgency approach – actually, no – I know the counterinsurgency approach is the right approach.
We’ve seen examples of it that are very good, based on the Marines being there. And we fundamentally believe that the Marines, as an example, will have been, in the middle of 2011, there for three seasons – certainly three summers – and we’ll know whether this is going to work or not. So that’s really where that date is. It’s not arbitrary. It was very specific. And then on the other end, the language is very important, because it’s not a deadline. There’s no withdrawal date and there’s no “we’re out of here,” specifically.
At the time, it was also picked to incentivize the Afghan leadership that they have to take control of their own destiny, they have to provide security. And actually, they’re doing it in some places right now – Kabul would be an example. But they would – and I’ve spent time today with some – with one of the Afghan corps, where they, in fact, have several units – a couple kandaks that are operating as what I would call the top level, independently, by themselves. So it was also done to incentivize them, specifically.
And again, back to the length of the debate, it should be very clear what the guidance – it’s very clear to those of us that have to execute it what the commander’s intent and guidance is, from our president right down to those on the ground. The other thing that has been a very important part of this is, there are 42 countries that have troops in Afghanistan. There is, in my country, oftentimes, a parallel drawn between this and Vietnam, and if there’s any single, big indicator of the differences, you know, Vietnam, we were there by ourselves. This is an international coalition of countries who are committing troops who are dying, as are mine, and those countries continue to commit.
So – and I’ve been around NATO for some time. One of the areas – and I’ve never seen NATO as positive on this mission as they are right now. So there’s an awful lot – in my view, an awful lot of stars that are aligning. And I think the opportunity is there to get this right. I also believe – and certainly would be happy to find a question or statement from you – but I also believe that your future strategic choices will be based on how things happen – what happens in Afghanistan – what kind of country is it going to be, what kind of government it’s going to have. You know, how does that government look at its neighbors? Obviously, principally, that would be Pakistan.
And so what I have found is that this region is just linked in so many ways, so if we get it right in Afghanistan, there’s, quite frankly, and opportunity for, I think, a view here that is not as harsh and concerned about Afghanistan as it has been in the past. I don’t expect that to happen overnight, but I view it, potentially, as a very positive outcome here as well. So anyway, that’s – those are probably the – some of the larger issues associated with the strategy at this point.
And maybe the last thing I’d say is, as I spoke to you earlier about the importance of a long-term relationship here, and as I look at you as more senior officers and I think about the majors and the lieutenant commanders and I wonder what they’re learning and what they know about us, what they know about our relationship, what they know about our countries, what they know about America, specifically, and how do we invest to accelerate that, because I think we need to. We can’t do it with one or two students at war college each year; that takes far too long.
I think we’ve got to be much more creative about that in terms of exercises and training and short courses and exchanges – whatever the case might be. As I indicated to you about your country, that we are seeking a long-term relationship, so, too, it is with Afghanistan. The intent is not to leave. We’ve done that before and I understand that. But I can tell you that every single senior leader I’ve spoken to is focused on an enduring relationship with the region, not just with one country or another.
And again, lastly, I guess I’d say I appreciate your service. I appreciate what you do. I know what it means to serve for one’s country, and particularly at this particular time. And you are – as I’m indicated I’m sustaining losses, you have sustained significant losses, as well. And I know that and I understand what that means. So with that, I’m open to any questions.
Q: Sir, I am – (inaudible). My question pertains to the fact that the – (inaudible) – Pakistan that we’ll go to – (inaudible). (Inaudible) – for the last four or 5 years, the Afghan army has been involved in Indian operations and very recently, Pakistan army has undertaken a very serious operation in – (inaudible). Similarly, now it is undertaking an operation in South Waziristan, which has been relatively very successful, as compared to the operations which you are taking across the border. Now, with that being the case, I think there is a serious need to look at the fact that people across need to do a little more than what we are doing because we are suffering very heavy casualties.
ADM. MULLEN: People what?
ADM. MULLEN: People what?
Q: We are taking casualties and we are taking casualties – a lot of casualties that we are taking. So similarly, there has been some kind of talk related to the movement of al-Qaida leadership coming from Afghanistan into Pakistan and into the area of the FATA. What I want to say is that the kind of intelligence that you had – and even in these last so many years, al-Qaida leadership has not been identified where it actually exists.
Then why is Pakistan being told that the al-Qaida leadership is inside Pakistan? And what I want to say is that I think it is time that the U.S. should now look at enhancing, maybe, the capacity of Pakistan army to fight these kind of operations. Like, if the army needs some drones, I think they should be provided. Thank you.
ADM. MULLEN: So let me – well, I’ll talk to the al-Qaida leadership. If you’re talking about UBL and Zawahiri specifically, the best indications we have are they’re here. We know because a bunch of them have died, al-Qaida leadership is in the FATA. A bunch of them died over the last 2 years, specifically. I think Secretary Gates said the other day, it’s been a while since we’ve had any decent intelligence on UBL himself.
And I also don’t see UBL or Zawahiri as the answer. I mean, we could kill them tomorrow and it would not be over. I think to get al-Qaida long term, they’re going to have to be killed or captured, but it’s not the magic solution to the overall issue. And in fact, you know, I’m mindful of the prayer, literally, that comes up first, which strikes me in a very positive way. And I actually believe that in the long run, the way al-Qaida dies is because of the rightness of that and the wrongness of what they’re doing to Islam.
Now, that’s the long term. In the near term, there’s a lot of difficult challenges that we have to address the fact that they’re killing our people, among other things. We have – and to the equipment issue, one of the – having been to Iraq, as we have – and we didn’t understand counterinsurgency until we shifted in 2006, and we were at war there for over 3 years before we understood it.
And inside of about 24 months, we became an extraordinary counterinsurgency force. And what we learned was the ability to turn intelligence almost instantly to continue the fight, so that, in a way, that we’ve merged operations and intelligence that is at light speed compared to when I grew up. And that continues today.
So for the last couple of years, as we’ve looked to support your training, which we have done – and we’ve done that in certain ways across your military – I know where that ends up. I know where that’s going to go, because I’ve seen it. I’ve seen my forces execute it at a level that is exquisite – not perfect, but exquisite. And so the assistance that we are providing now in training is headed in that direction.
And for you, for instance, to stand up and say, give us drones, is an indicator that you are now aware of some of what that can do. Drones are not the answer; believe me. It actually has nothing to do with drones. And if there are any procurement people in here or requirements people, it’s all about sensors. Whatever it flies on or whatever it floats on or whatever it walks on or rolls on, on the land, is almost meaningless. It’s the sense piece of it.
And I say that because in my own country, oftentimes, we get lost on the platforms. We do have to have platforms. So – and we have, in ODRP specifically, over the last 2 years, taken a comprehensive look at what the needs are and what the requirements are. And we have worked hard to fill a great deal of that. There is – as there are for – as we have for many countries, there are great sensitivities for equipment that we sell to other countries. And so saying we could do something overnight – it just isn’t going to happen. WE have to work our way through a process that goes through our Congress. It’s just –t hat’s our law, so we can’t do it overnight.
But I will tell you, with where – with what you are seeing or starting to see in your own operations, that I’m specifically aware of, there have been – you know, you’re well on a path to get to what I talk about. My only – I would almost say frustration – is I know the end. I know what you can do. But you can’t – we can’t do that overnight, either. It takes training; it takes equipment; it takes time; it takes leadership; it takes understanding; it takes exquisite intelligence and citizens to support that.
So that is really where a lot of our training support focus, which is all we’re doing here in your country, is focused right now. And I recognize the capability that is there in terms of unmanned systems, if you will – and I actually think, you know, you’re headed in that direction. But I don’t think it will happen overnight. Yeah, all the in the back.
Q: Sir – (inaudible). My question is related to the Indian involvement in FATA and Baluchistan. Now, my question – what is the U.S. stance on this – (inaudible) – and how can you reel in the Indians from this – (inaudible)?
ADM. MULLEN: How can I what?
Q: How can you reel in the Indians and voice this concern about their involvement in FATA and Baluchistan?
ADM. MULLEN: So I told you this is a regional approach. I talked about public admonishments – sorry, public praise and private admonishment. And I can assure you that I’m engaged with my Indian counterpart. And it’s not just me; it is the entirety of my government. And it goes far beyond what you may or may not have seen publicly. We recognize – and that is – so I talked about leadership – critical leadership, risk taking, bold leadership.
And I’ll go back to Prime Minister Singh and President Musharraf when they took initiatives, two or 3 years ago, to detension the Kashmir border. And that was risky and it had an immediate impact, in terms of the tension coming down, the trade, the travel. And I have said publicly, I actually think the key to the region is the tension on that border. It’s all related.
I don’t think we can single it out. I don’t think you can point to one country or another, but it’s all related. And for instance, I mean, Gen. Kayani and I have talked about the Cold Start doctrine. I’m very familiar with that. I’ve talked about that with Indian leadership – military leadership as well as political leadership, to give you an example. So I guess – I mean, I certainly wouldn’t share it all with you, but I want to assure you that I recognize it’s not – there’s no one easy part of this. It’s going to take all of us.
And in the end, in my view, it’s going to take political leadership to solve – to take bold steps to solve these problems. They’re not going to be solved by you or I. And then the other thing that I just – and this goes back to me – each of us has certain beliefs about either the threats or how we see other people or other nations or other militaries. And again, this goes back to the leadership pieces, is, once in a while, it’s important to check those assumptions, because there’s a way that those just are reinforcing, reinforcing, and are we checking for any new information?
Somebody’s going to have to lead here. Somebody’s going to have to take those steps. And too often, the – you know, focusing outward gives us a reason to not focus inward. And I think we need to do both. I think we need to be aware of what’s going on around us, and clearly, we need to be taking a look at ourselves, all of us, which is – you know, which I – which isn’t easy. But I assure you that this is not – first of all, this is not the first time this has ever been raised to me. And secondly, it’s an issue that I’ve addressed routinely – and not just me; others.
MR. : Can we have the last question, because the admiral has to leave for his next meeting.
ADM. MULLEN: Maybe. (Laughter.) Good to see a naval officer.
Q: Sir – (inaudible) – global war against terror. And we have earned this – (inaudible) – in a very hard way. That means sacrifice – (inaudible) – institutions. There is no denying of the fact that your president has – (inaudible). So how do you realize the end state of this – (inaudible) – situation, and especially war in Afghanistan?
ADM. MULLEN: I think it’s important to recognize – I mean, I certainly am aware of the history, and at the same time, in this discussion/debate that we had in Washington – review – there were many both public discussions and even private, of gee, I wish it was 2002 or 2003, but it’s not. It’s where we are. And that’s a reality of what I have to deal with and I think we all have to deal with.
I envision this being a much more stable Afghanistan upon which you can depend, long term, that doesn’t threaten you, that isn’t aligning itself or seeming to align itself with India, which further threatens you. And you know, a region which, through that, looks to Pakistani leadership to stabilize everything as well. And I mean, sort of, top-to-bottom. And I think that’s going to take some time, but first of all, I think – I really do believe that the troop numbers – the troops we have on the ground, the focus on the people and their security – that within 12 to 18 to 24 months, we’ll turn the insurgency around.
Next year’s going to be a hard year. We know we’re going to lose a lot more people because the fighting’s going to be tough. But we think that in the long run, actually, the total losses will be reduced because we’ll get through it next year – 2010. At least, that’s how I look at it right now. That doesn’t mean all the way through it, but we think we’ll be well on our way to reversing. That, then, ensures – and then the other piece is, the Afghan security forces have to develop to take care of themselves.
And they are, certainly on the army side, very committed to doing that. We’re behind, as we were in Iraq, with the police. That’s the biggest lift, if you will, will be the police force in Afghanistan. And then they provide for their own security and, in that, Taliban either – Taliban, in many ways, because they’re locals, they reintegrate and then you have the hardcore, which are not going away. And I don’t envision an Afghanistan that doesn’t have Taliban. That’s not the end state.
But they will certainly – my expectation is, they’ll be diminished to a level where they won’t threaten the state and they certainly won’t be killing the number of Afghan citizens they’re killing right now. And they can be handled by the security forces, and that gives us an opportunity to settle out there, which I think has a great deal to do with how things settle here. And in the long run, I think the pressure that Gen Kayani and your military brings on this side is additive to the pressure on the other side, and that eventually gets at the safe havens.
And then the last thing I’d say is I recognize this is your country. This is a sovereign country. As more than one individual has pointed out to me, it was their opinion that the most – the country that worried about its sovereignty or acted on behalf of its sovereignty more than any other country that this individual thought in the world was the United States.
Sometimes that gets lost on us when we’re thinking about other countries. And so I recognize that; that is a hugely sensitive issue, not just because of now, but because of history. And I understand that, and I’ve learned that. And all of that gets integrated into my thought and my leadership as we try to move forward. Again, thank you very much.