December 9, 2009
Contact:
Anna Christopher, NPR


   

GENERAL STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL TELLS NPR NEWS
U.S. INVOLVEMENT WITH AFGHANISTAN TO CONTINUE
FOR "A NUMBER OF YEARS"

INTERVIEW WITH HOST STEVE INSKEEP AIRING IN TWO PARTS:
TODAY ON ALL THINGS CONSIDERED AND TOMORROW ON MORNING EDITION

EXCERPTS BELOW; FULL TRANSCRIPT AND REPORT
AVAILABLE AT APPROX. 3PM AT NPR.org

December 9, 2009; Washington, D.C. – In his first broadcast interview since President Barack Obama laid out his strategy for Afghanistan last week, General Stanley McChrystal tells NPR News' Morning Edition that the United States' involvement with Afghanistan has to continue for "a number of years" to make a significant difference, despite the President's 18-month timeline to begin drawing down forces.

Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep interviewed McChrystal this morning at the Pentagon. That interview is airing in two parts: tonight on All Things Considered and tomorrow on Morning Edition. A full transcript will soon be available at www.npr.org, where audio from both reports will be posted following the broadcasts. Several excerpts follow:

Asked to define a realistic window for the U.S. to end its involvement in Afghanistan, McChrystal says: "I think it's all stages. I think first off, the end of the project is when Afghanistan is absolutely able to provide all of their security without any external assistance. But I think that we and the international community, not just the United States, have offered a strategic partnership to Afghanistan, to the people of Afghanistan, that guarantees them that we are there for them over time, and I think it's a number of years. And I won't put a number on it, but it's a number of years. But in the future years, I think it is a partnership that is much more like advice, some resources. It's very much not like combat forces because I don't think they'll need them."

When asked by Inskeep whether coalition forces need to control all of Afghanistan in order to “win” the country, McChrystal says: "No. I don't think so. I think what we've got to do is get it to the point where the government of Afghanistan can protect its sovereignty. They don't have to control every square inch. What they have to do is control enough of the population, enough of the key production and lines of communications, and establish enough credibility and legitimacy so that the insurgency can't be an existential threat. Over time then of course the insurgency loses relevance. And I think then the government of Afghanistan is where it needs to be to move forward."

Whether the enemy has been learning from coalition forces in the last year, he says: "Absolutely, and if you watch Mullah Omar and some of his senior leaders come out as we put out guidance that we have to protect and respect the civilian population, limit civilian casualties, establish relations, they are almost in parallel. On the one hand, it is concerning, because the more that they adjust their behavior, theoretically, the more effective they could become. But in the long term, the more they adjust their behavior, the less threatening they are to the government of Afghanistan as well. Were the Taliban to continue to evolve far enough, then I think that their willingness to use coercion and other things against the government of Afghanistan wouldn't be there anymore."

All excerpts of the interview must be credited to "NPR News." Television usage must include on-screen chyron to "NPR News" with NPR logo. A full transcript will be available at approximately 3PM (ET) upon request and at www.npr.org

Morning Edition, hosted by Steve Inskeep and Renee Montage, and All Things Considered, hosted by Michele Norris, Melissa Block and Robert Siegel, are public radio's most-listened-to programs, contributing to NPR's growing audience of 26.4 million listeners weekly on NPR Member stations nationwide. To find local stations and broadcast times from the two programs, visit www.NPR.org/stations