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Hello again and a happy -- today from Fox News in Washington.
With troubling new developments this week and Afghanistan Pakistan and a lock.
We -- the time was right -- firsthand assessment of where we stand.
Joining us from US Central Command in Florida is General David Petraeus who oversees American military operations.
In the Middle East and Central Asia and general welcome back to Fox News Sunday.
Good to be with you Chris thanks -- general let's start with Pakistan the military there has launched a new offensive against the Taliban in the swat valley.
Is there any sign that this is different from earlier Pakistan a military campaigns which have not been effective.
Other number of signs of difference actually Chris first of all the actions of the Pakistani column -- It's pushing below the swat valley into Durenberger -- Seem to have galvanized.
All of pockets -- Not just the president and the prime minister but also even the opposition leaders virtually all the elements of the political spectrum.
And the people in addition to of course the the military so there is a degree of unanimity that there must be.
Swift and effective action taken against the Talabani and pockets -- And this is reflected also has has been announced by the Pakistani leaders the shift of forces from the eastern part of their country.
Faced off against India.
To the northwest frontier province areas where the fighting is already ongoing and we're more presumably will be conducted.
But the fact is -- an and I know you have been critical of this a lot of military experts in the past that the Pakistani army.
Tends it's that it to fight the war that they would fight against the Indians with -- heavy artillery.
With the with the -- ship's -- -- with warplanes fighting.
Do do you have the sense that they have a counter insurgency strategy that makes you confident that they can beat the Taliban in the swat valley.
Well we did have some good conversations this past week in Washington as part of the trilateral process that -- reported.
And during that it was very clear and discussions with everyone from presidents -- -- through the other members of the delegation.
That there's an understanding that this does have to be a whole of government approach.
In other -- not just the military but all the rest of the elements of government supporting the military.
So that they can reestablish basic services repair the damage that is inevitably done by the bombardment of these areas in which the tall -- located.
Indicate take care of the internally displaced persons and -- -- enormous effort ongoing in that regard.
Our State Department other countries all trying to help the UN which is the agency on the front lines there.
Trying to take care of these refugees that are streaming out of the swat valley.
At general Il reportedly told top US officials recently that the next two weeks were critical.
To determine the survival.
Of the Pakistan government if we're talking about something as existential -- as that.
What are the chances that the Islamic radicals could get their hands on Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.
Well first of all the reports of what I said were -- a little bit more than what I actually said behind closed doors several weeks ago which Thomas said that in fact the next few weeks would be very important and to to a degree pivotal.
In the future for pockets -- And I think that that has been proven accurate.
-- indeed now -- Pakistani government military people have all responded.
And certainly the next few weeks will be very important in this effort to roll back if you will.
This X essential threaded a true threat to Pakistan's very existence that has been posed by the Pakistani column on.
With respect to the -- the nuclear weapons and and sites that are controlled by pockets Don.
As President Obama mentioned the other day we have confidence in their security procedures and elements.
And believe that the security those sites is adequate.
Commitment to press the point if I -- because you as you say you are talking about an existential threat from Islamic radicals.
Can you assure the American people in the rest of the world that the US will not allow.
Those Pakistan a nuclear weapons to get into the hands of Islamic radicals.
Well this is not in the US assurance that matters this is a Pakistani assurance and also by the way I should point out Chris.
This is not the US fight that Pakistani is carrying out at this point in in in this effort this is a Pakistani fight a Pakistani battle.
With elements that as we've mentioned threaten the very existence of the Pakistani state.
You also said this week that al-Qaeda has reemerged.
In northwestern Pakistan is a centrally.
Organized operation capable of planning attacks and other countries.
Is al-Qaeda back in business -- -- Qaeda has been back in business for years Chris there is not -- an enormous revelation here what I.
Was merely saying was that the location of al-Qaeda senior leadership is indeed in the federally administered tribal areas.
Of that very rugged border region of western pockets -- just east of Afghanistan.
There's no question that al-Qaeda senior leadership by has been narron has been in operation for years we had to contend with its.
Reach as it sought to to facilitate the flow of foreign fighters resource is explosives leaders and expertise.
Into Iraq as you -- -- through Syria.
We see tentacles of al-Qaeda that connect to al-Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula in Yemen.
The elements self -- Bob in Somalia elements in north central Africa.
And that strive to reach all the way of course into.
Europe and into the United States and of course there were attacks a couple of years ago.
In the UK that reflected the reach of the transnational extremist elements.
Of al-Qaeda and the other amendments in the federally administered tribal area and general do you believe that bin Laden and zawahiri are still in charge of al-Qaeda.
We do it again.
I don't think anyone can give you any kind of accurate location for.
Bin Laden nor frankly for so hearing other than a general description of where that might be that certainly they surfaced periodically we see communications.
That they send out and of course they periodically send out videos.
In which they try to exhort.
People and to inspire individuals to carry out extremist activities general it's important to note by the way Chris that that these organizations by the way in the thought have sustained.
Some pretty significant losses over the course of the last 6810 months or so.
And there is a good deal of disruption that has taken place.
But of course that's transitory in nature and we'll have to see how the security operations in the federally administered tribal areas.
Different from of course the fight in the in the swat and northwest frontier province areas go.
General let's turn to Afghanistan.
Native has been widely report -- that as many as a 147.
Afghan civilians were killed after US air strikes.
In western Afghanistan I know you've been investigating the circumstances of the responsibility for that.
At this point what do you now.
Well in fact I should -- first of all that I had a very good conversation with President Karzai about this about some statements of course that he's made in recent days.
We're -- to have to work our way through this and I would point every one -- we sent you a copy of course of the joint press release again put out by the Afghan and US elements in Kabul yesterday after they -- initial investigating team came back.
It described it this sequence of events that took place with a -- -- moving into these villages.
Seeking to extort money from them eventually killing three -- that the citizens in that area.
Then engaging in the Afghan police who responded which led to the governor of that province for -- province requesting.
Helped from the Afghan national army and a coalition forces it was in that response that of course it's very significant.
Firefight broke out battle that could ultimately resulted in the dropping of bombs.
Which clearly killed Talabani and some civilians that it appears that column -- forced to remain.
In the houses -- from which the -- -- bond was engaging our forces.
Now we are going to do do a very thorough investigation of this of appointed a brigadier general.
With -- extensive experience in conventional and special operations who will go out to Afghanistan.
And look at it more broadly as well to ensure that.
Our forces or.
Very well acquainted with him and -- carrying out the directives that general McCarron and has put out.
So that our tactical actions don't undermine our strategic goals and objectives and that's essentially.
The the conversation that President Karzai and I had yesterday on this particular topic.
General -- you also say that the Taliban is mounting a surge of its own two protected safe havens in eastern.
Act Afghanistan President Obama has announced it is going to send another 21000 troops to the country are you getting.
All the troops you need and what kind of assurances are you getting from the president.
About -- his willingness to send more troops if necessary.
His commitment to win and Afghanistan.
Well -- just state that every request for forces that that -- sent to the secretary of defense and that is gone to the president has been approved and that carries all the requests.
Through the course of this calendar year there are requests beyond that for which decisions don't need to be made for a number of months.
And I'm confident those decisions we made at that point in time we have gone so far as to shift.
Some forces that just we don't have enough of in the inventory which by the way is -- secretary gates budget.
Addresses these kind of so called enabler is that low density high demand.
To shift some of those from Iraq to Afghanistan in fact.
To ensure that -- in the infrastructure is established and that the kinds of forces that they need.
To enable this that significant augmentation of our forces.
There is also.
In Iraq amid signs that the Iraqi Government is dropping some of the counterinsurgency.
That you introduced into -- rock.
In sunny areas.
The Sunni awakening these are Sunni forces that are fighting Sunni insurgents some of those units have not been paid.
For most of this year.
Are we giving back is the Iraqi Government giving back some of the games that we worked so hard to establish on the ground in Iraq.
Well -- so I don't think it's accurate to say that the sons of Iraq these.
Sunni awakening forces.
-- have not been paid this year there is drama and emotion with every single pay day.
But the vast majority of these sons of Iraq have been paid during that pay periods there's another one ongoing right now inevitably names -- Lost mixed up or what have you but over time we feel quite comfortable with what the Iraqi Government has done and taking care of these sons of rock and -- taking them.
All now on to their payroll rather than being on ours.
The level of violence actually has been roughly about the same for the last five or six months which is quite significant.
It has averaged between ten and fifteen attacks per day.
For that period which equates to a level of violence not seen since the late summer of 2003.
Before the insurgency and well before the militia activities accumulated that led due at one time -- 160 attacks per day.
-- in Iraq in June of 2007.
What we have seen in what is troubling certainly.
Has been the incidence.
Of sensational attacks if you will high casualty causing attacks particularly we saw these in Baghdad.
-- few weeks ago that did prompt a number of actions by Iraqi conventional special operations forces together with our forces.
To go after the re emerging networks of al-Qaeda we should expect that al-Qaeda will continue to try to reestablish itself.
In Iraq even as the focus of al-Qaeda senior leadership appears to have.
Shifted away somewhat.
From the support of the activities young in Iraq I would -- a couple of we will see this periodically there will be periodic up ticks in that regard -- if -- -- -- -- we got a couple more questions I want to ask you are beginning to run out of time.
I want to follow up on this last one because all US combat troops are supposed to be out of Iraqi cities by the end of June of this year.
But general Odierno the the head of US forces in Iraq now says the 20%.
Of our combat forces are going to stay behind in Baghdad and Mosul.
Past that deadline why it's not -- Well what we -- in the process of doing and have been doing is withdrawing the bases of our combat forces from Iraq cities in and large accounts.
That process has been ongoing it's gone smoothly.
We still do have some of those bases in Baghdad and Mosul but we think that they will be out what general Odierno was talking about.
Were liaison elements adviser elements organizations that partner with Iraqi forces.
In the support of them not in the conduct of our combat operations so certainly there will be -- presence.
But there will not be the combat forces based in those cities as we have had in the past and that is in accordance with the security agreement.
Thought finally general we have about a minute left.
Let's turn finally to Iran.
President Obama has made several efforts to reach out to the Iranian regime.
Whether its nuclear its nuclear program are arming our enemies in Iraq do you see any signs on the ground.
That the Iranian regime is moderating its behavior.
Well I think has probably been some small reduction in the assistance provided to Shia extremists in Iraq although that continues and again it's very difficult to measure.
Because sometimes you have to have some event to precipitate something to be able to determine how much is ongoing.
Beyond that we'll have to see as the the weeks and months proceed my deputy just accompanied ambassador Ross in a swing through the region.
Enormous concern out there are about Iran in rhetoric and actions.
But we need to see how these diplomatic initiatives might be able to moderate and produced some openness and transparency in Iran.
Particularly with respect of course to its nuclear programs.
General Petraeus we want to thank you for giving us a tour of all your responsibilities and that part of the world thank you for joining us and please come back -- Thank you -- -- --
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