MADELEINE BRAND, host:
And according to that congressional report, more money is also being spent in Afghanistan: $370 million a week now. That country has seen an increase in violence. In fact, fighting there is the most intense it's been since the U.S. toppled the Taliban-led government in 2001.
MIKE PESCA, host:
Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry is commander of the U.S.-led coalition forces in Afghanistan. And this is a simple question, General, but are we still fighting a war in Afghanistan?
Lietenant General KARL EIKENBERRY (Commander, Combined Forces Command): Yeah, we are, Mike. We're continuing on with our mission that we've had since our first days in Afghanistan, and that was to continue to wage war and to defeat al-Qaida and the international terrorists and their allied movements, the extremist Taliban, and at the same time to bring about change in Afghanistan, to help the government of Afghanistan and the people there create the conditions in the country so that international terrorism could not come back again.
PESCA: How will we know when we've won?
Lt. Gen. EIKENBERRY: We'll know when we've won when the Afghan people tell us that it's time for the United States to leave. And when will that date come? That date will come when the conditions have been created in Afghanistan in terms of the governance, with their security forces, with the economy of that country, so that international terrorism has no place to live.
PESCA: I saw you quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying in your 33 years in the military you've never seen tougher terrain than you found in Afghanistan. Could you talk about that a little?
Lt. Gen. EIKENBERRY: Afghanistan is beautiful country, but just very difficult terrain. I'll give you an example. Up in Nuristan province, where right now we have forces of the 10th Mountain Division, United States Army, that are partnered with the Afghan National Army sitting at altitudes, Mike, of 10,000, 12,000 snow-capped peaks, narrow valleys, that when you go up to in Nuristan, fly up there with a helicopter, we go into valleys where our helicopters have to go into a tight spiral descent in order to land between two very sheer mountainous walls with a small valley sitting between them. And in that valley is a village that we're going into to try to bring healthcare or medical assistance.
It's in that kind of terrain, Mike, it's difficult to get to, but until you get there, until you extend that government presence, until you extend some kind of better life to those people, that's precisely the kind of areas that international terrorists will move into, and from those kind of sanctuaries then can bring great harm to the United States of America.
PESCA: Which brings us to Pakistan and the mountainous region that borders Pakistan and Afghanistan. The president, the leader of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, says that his country is not playing host to the Taliban. What's your understanding?
Lt. Gen. EIKENBERRY: Well, Mike, what I'd say about Pakistan, all I can do is talk from military perspective as the coalition commander in Afghanistan. Our military relationship that we have with Pakistan and the U.S./coalition forces - with NATO now, they're a partner in our relations, as well as the Afghan national security forces, the border police and the army - we've got very good relations with the Pakistan army, cooperative relations along the border at a tactical level. We share information between the two sides. We use a common set of radios to communicate.
So there is a good relationship that exists there. Mike, I think that on all sides - you know, Pakistan, Afghanistan, ourselves - we recognize that we are fighting against a common enemy, that this enemy does not respect international borders, and that's one of the challenges posed by international terrorism. They try to use borders against us.
PESCA: Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry, a three star general who's commander of the U.S. led coalition forces in Afghanistan. Thank you very much.
Lt. Gen. EIKENBERRY: Mike, thank you.