On the Record

Understanding the New Afghanistan Strategy

Bruce Riedel

Following President Obama’s announcement regarding additional troops and a new approach to fighting insurgents in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Bruce Riedel, chairman of the interagency review of the region, spoke to Charlie rose to explain what changes are planned and why they need to be made. Riedel argued that an important aspect of the strategy is to help Afghans build up their capacity to defend their own country over the long term.

Charlie Rose, host: The rollout of the new [Afghanistan] strategy came on a day when a suicide bombing in Pakistan killed at least 50 people. Joining me now from Washington is Bruce Riedel. He is a former CIA analyst who led the interagency review. I am pleased to have him on this broadcast for the first time, welcome.

Bruce Riedel : Pleased to be here.

Rose: Lay out for us, what is the mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan today and what it will be in the coming months?

Riedel: Well, let me start with the premise — the situation that we have inherited. 7 years plus after 9/11, the Al Qaeda core leadership has moved from Kandahar, Afghanistan to a location unknown in Pakistan. And there, they are plotting further attacks against the United States, our homeland and our interests abroad. The president was very clear in his speech today that the goal of our policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan is to disrupt, dismantle and eventually defeat Al Qaeda, and get rid of the safe-havens and sanctuaries in which they — and their allies — are breeding.

What’s at stake here is fundamentally the protection of the American people and that is why the president ordered this strategic review.

In order to fulfill that mission, we have to help the Afghans build up their capacity. The 4,000 additional soldiers the president ordered to Afghanistan today are going in to train Afghans in order to be able to better defend their own country. So that over the longer term, American forces and other foreign forces can hand over the mission to Afghans.

Watch the full interview »