Briefing on Recent Trip to South Asia
Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources
MR. CROWLEY: Welcome to the Department of State and happy Friday to you all. We have with us today Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew, who just returned to Washington early this morning.
DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: Late last night, early this morning.
MR. CROWLEY: This morning from a recent trip to Iraq, India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. So we thought it was a good opportunity to have him kind of give you a readout of that trip and some of the vital issues that he saw along the way. And then, I’ll pick up where he leaves off.
DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: Thanks, P.J. I thought I’d kind of go chronologically through the trip, partially because it will help me not to forget things, and partially because getting in the middle of the night, it’ll get me back into it.
We started in Iraq, and I think it was very important to go to Iraq right now at this time. We’re in the middle of making some very important decisions about how to manage the transition from the military presence as we draw down into a new civilian presence that’s headed towards a more normal kind of footprint in Iraq. Had very good meetings with both our military and civilian leadership there. We discussed many issues ranging from how do specific programs like police training become effectively implemented in a new construct, to the – what we will be doing at our new local presences, provisional presences, after the drawdown.
I think that my observation was that it was outstanding military-civilian cooperation. There’s one team there. There is a real unity of purpose and very clear thinking about the fact that it’s not just handing one set of responsibilities over, but rethinking what the U.S. mission and presence is after the drawdown.
We had the ability to, in addition to having the meetings in Baghdad, go to Kirkuk for a day. And in Kirkuk, we met with the local governor, talked at length about the economic and development issues in Kirkuk. And it was quite heartening to hear the very positive feeling that the local Kirkuk leadership had towards our civilians on the PRT and how much they look forward to working with civilians in the future. We are going to figure out how to make that work, obviously, in the new environment.
We went from Iraq to India, and in India really tried to focus on the U.S.-India relationship. We went there with the hopes of discussing our development relationship, particularly food security, and taking the next step in the strategic dialogues that the Secretary announced when she was there very recently. We had good discussions both at a governmental level and with leaders of civil society.
There is, I think, a lot of interest in the area of food security, where we have the ability to learn from India and to help India take the next steps that it needs to take. It was quite striking that food security is not thought of as a domestic issue in India; it’s thought of as a national security issue. And there was a lot of interest in the topic, both in terms of how technology transfer can be affected, and how we can work together to deal with problems in India and not just the region, but around the world.
From India, we went to Pakistan. And in Pakistan, we focused on a number of issues. I think, as you all know, with the Kerry-Lugar program being worked through now in Congress and the budget process working through, in terms of the appropriations, we’re ready to take the next step and put a detailed program out there that really goes and specifies what forms of assistance will be provided.
In the conversations we had with the Pakistani officials – we met with the Prime Minister Gilani, we met with the Finance Minister Tarin – they are very much focused on not just the amount of assistance in Kerry-Lugar, but the fact that it’s a multiyear commitment. They see it as an extremely important statement from the United States that we’re thinking in multiyear terms and thinking about a program that has integrity over a period of time.
We had detailed discussions following up on the Secretary’s interest and the issue that Ambassador Holbrooke raised when he was there recently, of an energy relationship with Pakistan, how we could work together using the assistance that we’re providing to help Pakistan address what is one of its core economic issues. We raised also the fact that it’s not just a question of assistance on projects, but that Pakistan had to take some very hard steps to reform its electric utility sector in order for there to be the real opportunity for sustainable progress. I was pleased that both in the conversation with the prime minister and with the finance minister, they heard that message and they responded very positively.
On the question of aid, there, as any of you who have seen the press releases put out would know, they’re very much anxious to have as much of the assistance as possible flow directly into the Pakistani Government. We made clear that we’re looking at a variety of approaches, that we certainly intend to be supportive of Pakistani ministries where the programs are ready to accept that support effectively, but that we also needed to look at the provincial level and to work with the traditional NGO community, and it wouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all approach.
The key to us was that for each of the undertakings that we agreed upon, and they had to be things that were mutually attractive from the point of view of the Pakistani Government and the U.S. Government, we had to choose a method of funding that was most likely to produce results efficiently and effectively, and that the money needed to go to the purposes for which it was intended.
We were able, while we were in Pakistan, to go to the North-West Frontier province – provinces to Peshawar. In Peshawar, we visited the U.S. Consulate. And I have to say, while I was going to say about all of the State Department employees that I met with on this trip, particularly in Peshawar. You have to have enormous respect for our Civil Service, our Foreign Service officers, and our military who serve in extremely difficult surroundings. I’m not sure one could find much more difficult surroundings than Peshawar in terms of the conditions that they work in and the mobility that they have, and frankly, the risk. It is a real tribute to the patriotism and the dedication of our staff there that they do the very important work that they do so well.
In Peshawar, we had meetings with our own staff, again, but we also had meetings with the local governor, the governor who has authority over both the NWFP and also the FATA, and we met with the chief minister in the NWFP. There was a great deal of interest there, much as we heard at the federal level, in having U.S. assistance provide a basis for partnership at – for provincial development. There also seemed to be a fair amount of capacity at the provincial level. It was – we were impressed that the chief minister had a very good sense of both his budget, his needs, and his limitations. And you had the sense that there was the capacity to partner quite effectively.
We discussed at length the issue of IDPs, the enormous number of IDPs that were in that area over the summer, and many of whom – the majority of whom – have been able to return home. It was clear that they see – they were very grateful for the assistance that was provided quickly by the United States and the international community. But they also saw remaining needs and were anxious to have an ongoing sense of partnership, that – and we said we were very hopeful that we would be able to maintain.
The meetings we had on IDPs were both in Peshawar and we went to Mardan, which is a smaller community that was one of the areas that a great number of IDPs moved from Buner and Swat. In the – and we went to a school, a girls school which had closed classes a month early in order to become home for 10-plus families. It’s hard to describe it as a home. It was quite primitive classrooms, limited outdoor plumbing, and there must have been well over a hundred people living there from May until recently.
While they closed classes early in order to accept the IDPs, they opened classes on time to get the girls back to school this fall. There was a huge focus on the need to get back to normal and the need to open school, and I would just have to say looking at the faces of these middle school girls reminded you of the hope that – and the reason that you can think that there is the possibility of things being better. They’re in this school that just weeks ago had been a home for IDPs. And they’re learning English, they’re a little shy of a foreigner, but not afraid to engage. And it was really quite moving.
We met with families – IDP families that had not yet returned. They were from Bajaur, which is an area that, from their perspective, had not yet become safe enough for them to go back to. Very traditional families; it was – women were wearing full burkas and the men were quite traditional. But they talked quite movingly of how much they wanted to go home. We asked them, in a number of different ways, whether the other IDPs who had already gone home had gone home voluntarily or not. And they very quickly responded, saying they went home because they wanted to go home – we want to go home, we only want for it to be safe to go home. And they talked about the damage to their communities and their homes. And from their perspective, their sense was that the Taliban had targeted schools, particularly girls schools. They had targeted police stations. And they didn’t know, frankly, whether their homes would still be habitable in the winter. They hoped that they would be. They were still hopeful of getting home by the winter.
We met with NGO and international organization officials on the ground and asked a lot of questions about what they saw as being the next steps. And there’s obviously two things that they’re focusing on. One is kind of getting the first round of IDPs back home and safe for the winter. But they also are aware that with ongoing military activities, there could be new IDPs. So they’re kind of working on coming to some kind of closure on the current experience while knowing that there may be more ahead.
They were all focusing on the need for ongoing food and clothing support. It was not clear, frankly, the scope of damage to be repaired. Apart from the reports we got about schools and police stations, one didn’t have the sense that there had been the ability to do the detailed assessment. The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank are supposed to complete an assessment even this week. So we will work together as we go through that.
I guess the conclusion that I drew from the days we spent were that the Government of Pakistan and the people of Pakistan have really done an extraordinary job in dealing with millions of displaced people in a way that, from the brief time we spent there, seemed to have left considerable feeling of – that people had been taken care of in very difficult circumstances. And it doesn’t mean that there aren’t problems. There certainly are still problems. But it – the notion of people taking tens of people into their homes, their small homes, on very modest incomes, it just – people-to-people – gave you great respect for the outpouring of help that came from just regular people.
We went on to Afghanistan, and I should say that accompanying me on the trip were Ambassador Holbrooke’s deputy, Paul Jones, and Assistant Secretary Richard Verma. And the trip to Afghanistan in some ways was the focus of our trip. We’re in the process of implementing the civilian increase in Afghanistan. We needed to go through in great detail what the programming was. We needed to see firsthand what was happening in areas where the military had completed clearing, and when – where the civilian and military programs were coming together, how it was working.
We also met with Afghan ministers – the finance minister and the agriculture minister – and had substantial conversations about how important it was from their perspective and our perspective that the programming that we proceed with really be owned by the Afghans themselves. We had the – we were able to sign a memorandum of understanding to help develop capacity in some business regulatory areas, which is an important step towards a normalized business environment in Afghanistan.
And I want to focus on the time we spent with Ambassador Eikenberry going to Helmand and to Torkham, where we got a chance to firsthand see what is going on on the ground as we implement civilian programming.
In Helmand, the military and civilian collaboration is working extremely well. There is a sense of single mission, single purpose. The military – and this was both U.S. and British military in Helmand – thought it was critically important that as the military operations were ongoing, the civilians were coming in with them in Helmand, and that it sent an enormous signal to the people down there what the intentions were; that it was not intention of a long-term military presence, but it was an intention to clear the area and then have the economic activity start to take over on its own.
The challenges in Helmand are many. Having seen the map of Helmand more times than I can count, it’s almost impossible to visualize how isolated these places are. They’re – it’s not just spots of security, it’s spots of people with huge amounts of desert in the middle. And what we’re doing is we’re putting civilians in – both direct U.S. Government, local nationals, and implementing partners – in these areas, as they’re cleared, to go through the difficult process of implementing programs with the Afghan local people.
The Afghan – the provincial minister that we met with in Helmand was extremely grateful for the civilian presence, extremely complimentary of the speed and the quality of the people. And I must say, in my own observation, the quality of the people who are signing up for this difficult duty is extraordinarily high. The challenge we’re going to have is replicating this over and over again. The standard we’re setting as we hit the ground with civilians in these difficult assignments is really quite high.
We observed ourselves the challenges of mobility. I think as we look ahead, one of the issues that I think we’re all going to have to focus on is that moving Americans around is a challenge because of the security conditions between areas. And there are limited assets, military assets available, and we’re going to have to work together with the military. There was no sense of friction between the military and the civilians. There was only a sense of if there were enough assets, they would want to be as supportive as they could. And I think that’s something that we’ll just have to continue working through.
An issue that was somewhat of a new issue to me that I think is worthy of reporting on is that we’re trying very hard to bring Afghans into the process. The leverage of one U.S. direct hire for ten others is largely the function of bringing local Afghans in to do the work. It has multiple important purposes: one is they have the relationships and they speak the language; and two, it builds the capacity locally. It doesn’t come and go when the U.S. presence leaves. It’s really building local capacity.
The challenge that was new to me is that the mobility of the Afghans is somewhat limited, and their ability to get from where they’re working back home is something that we have to work with them on. There are lots of people who will take a tough assignment, but, like most of us, they do want to be able to go home once in awhile, and that’s just an additional challenge. Because of security conditions, because of the difficulty of transportation, transportation has and mobility has an unusually large impact on effectiveness.
I was delighted to be able to spend the time with Ambassador Eikenberry. I’ve spent so much time with Ambassador Holbrooke here in Washington. The team that we have addressing this problem is really working together from Washington and Kabul as one team. And the visits that Ambassador Holbrooke makes, visits like mine, are an opportunity to make sure that spaces don’t develop between the policy planning process and the implementation process, and really, that they are one. So I was pleased that I was able to make this visit in between his visits.
The trip that we took to Torkham, which is the Khyber Pass, was actually extremely important because the key to long-term development in Afghanistan is trade. We’ve talked a lot about the Transit Trade Agreement between Pakistan and Afghanistan. And the challenge of the transit trade process becomes very tangible when you see the challenges of getting goods back and forth across this very narrow passing with long delays on both sides. U.S. Customs and DHS officials are being extremely helpful, working with the Afghan ministries there, both to help them go through the process of clearing goods to make sure that the goods are transported safely, and also going through the process of working on making the revenue collection, the customs – the duty collection process, work more effectively. It’s critically important for Afghanistan to rebuild its tax base, and the leakage that comes from ineffective tax collection at the border is a big part of the challenge. There’s still a lot of work to do, but it was obvious that the Americans we have on the ground there are really making a difference.
That’s kind of the outline of what we did over this 10-day period. You leave with a great sense of that there’s much work to be done. Standing here on September 11th, having this conversation, really focuses the mind on why we’re there in the first place. We’re there because there is a risk to the United States. When you go there, you realize that the challenge of implementing the program is one that our people on the ground have a real passion to do right, and a sense of urgency of mission.
QUESTION: Secretary Lew, may I – you didn’t mention the ArmorGroup issue. I assume that you did look at that. Have you come to a decision about whether to terminate their contract? And did you come to some assessment of whether, in fact, security was compromised, or have they restored it completely?
DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: Well, as you know, there’s an ongoing investigation of that. We’ve announced a number of actions that were taken immediately to respond to what were very serious conditions that were reported on. I spent time talking with people there about it. I’ve talked to the chief security officer about it. I talked to people who work in the Embassy. I think that the sense in the Embassy is that people generally do not feel that their security has been compromised. There’s a sense of security at the Embassy. There is no doubt that people are taking it very seriously and are determined to – as we’ve indicated in the things that were done and said here while I was there, that actions have to be taken and the circumstance has to not occur in the future.
I think it’s important, as we focus on taking very tough actions, to make sure that unacceptable behavior is dealt with appropriately to recognize the very hard work that’s done by so many Diplomatic Security officers, and, for that matter, many of the – so many of the contract officers to make sure our people are safe. It was kind of heartbreaking to hear somebody who didn’t behave in that way talk about having to explain to their teenage children that it was a bad group.
I’d leave it for the investigation to be completed. I’m not going to get ahead of the process. But I did get the sense that it’s being taken very, very seriously, as it should be, and as we are and as the Secretary is here.
QUESTION: On India, can you be more specific how do you intend to help India on food security issues? And besides food security, were there any other issues discussed during the trip to India?
DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: Well, we discussed many other issues in the conversations. In terms of food security, I think the challenge is to figure out how to cooperate to make sure that anything that we provide support for really helps move the production and the farm economy forward, and to work with the appropriate combination of research and federal and local players there so that the impact can be in the food economy.
And we heard concerns raised from the nongovernmental sector that they should – all the assistance should be through them. We heard arguments from the governmental sector that the assistance should be all through the government. We need to find a way to make sure that we provide the assistance so that it effectively helps to increase the availability of technology for the purpose of farming. And I think that we started a good conversation while we were there.
QUESTION: As part of the second green revolution which India is talking about right now?
DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: Yes.
QUESTION: Can I just go to the civilian surge into Helmand, actually?
DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: Yeah.
QUESTION: When the troops went in earlier this summer, the talk of putting civilians in was in the handful – you know, in the range of a couple handful initially, and then to be built up into a couple dozen by around now. Can you tell us how many you have in place and what your trajectory is on that?
DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: Well, I haven’t --
QUESTION: And what they’re doing as well?
DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: Yeah. I haven’t checked the number since I got back today. So we’re adding people on a daily basis. We’re ahead of the schedule that we committed to in March, which was to get to roughly a thousand by next March. And the challenge is going to be – we think we’re going to get there by the end of the year, but if it’s not the end of the year, it’ll be the very beginning of the year.
The challenge is getting the right people in the right place at the right time. And we have to – we’ve done very well on the initial deployments getting people with the right skill set, and we have to keep on that to make sure that we continue to get people with the right skill set. Interestingly, the places where we seem to be doing best is in the areas with some of the more technical skill areas. We’re getting agronomists where they need to go. We’re getting people with language skills where they need to go. I heard a need for us to just up the speed, increase the speed a little bit on some of the back office functions that are just critical to making it work right, and that’s something I’m going to turn my attention to next week.
QUESTION: And then could you also say how you’re going to address this challenge of mobility for them so that they can actually move around and do the work that they need to do?
DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: Well, there’s multiple levels on which it has to be addressed. Where we’re co-located with the U.S. military, it’s a conversation between us and the Defense Department. Where we’re located in an area that’s controlled by the British, say, it’s a little more complicated and there are a number of potential solutions to increase mobility. But we’re going to have to do it working collectively with our international partners.
In general, there was a very good sense of international partnership both in the military and the civilian programming, the – it was not a question of whether they wanted to provide more mobility or they thought it was important. They just didn’t have enough assets there, and we’re going to have to figure out how to solve that problem.
QUESTION: Thank you. I have a couple of questions. Just to follow on the civilian surge, could you kind of illustrate more – a little bit more what they’re going to be doing and what – you know, we’ve heard a lot about a civilian surge, but what ultimately will these people be doing in terms of, kind of, civilian development? And does – the election fraud investigation notwithstanding – I mean, there’s been rampant corruption in the government and the kind of lack of accountability and stuff. Is that hurting your civilian efforts?
And just a quick one on ArmorGroup: You talked specifically about this kind of bad behavior, but were you aware of problems with the contractor over the last two years? It seems as if, these kind of parties notwithstanding, that there’s been a like, long list of complaints that this contractor was not performing. Thanks.
DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: I’m not sure I remember your first questions.
QUESTION: Just on the civilian --
DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- surge, what specifically are you --
DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: Okay.
QUESTION: -- hoping to do? And is the corruption --
DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: Right.
QUESTION: -- hurting your efforts with the government?
DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: Let me start with the corruption and go to the – it’s critically important that the resources we put in be used for the purposes that they’re provided for. And corruption is a problem in Afghanistan. We raise it in every meeting we have with senior ministers. I have made it clear at every level of the Afghan Government. Richard Holbrooke makes it clear at every level of the Afghan Government. All the U.S. officials who engage do.
I think that – I got the sense that they understood that our ability to sustain our effort was very much dependent on being able to demonstrate that the money was going for the purposes that it was intended. The desire that they have for us to move the money through their ministries is obviously something that we have to look, in a case-by-case basis, and look – where is the capacity to do it in a way that we’re comfortable with. We talked about the need to begin auditing with program disbursement, not afterwards.
They’re – it’s clear that the better they do in terms of dealing with the problem of corruption, the more we are going to be able to work with their ministries directly. We would like very much to be able to work as much as possible with their ministries. Ultimately, building capacity there is critically important, but we’re very sensitive to the fact that there’s some areas where it’s more possible than others to do it.
So what are we going to be doing? I’ll use that as a bridge. I’ve had the opportunity over the last seven months to work closely with a number of the Afghan ministers. And in an area like agriculture, it’s very encouraging that you have a minister who – Rahimi, who has a very clear-minded approach to how to move the Afghan agricultural economy forward. He quite correctly doesn’t think that we should sit here in Washington and tell them what the future for the Afghan economy is. And we’re very much listening, and as we go in, we’re working to adapt our programs to meet their policies of what they need. Sometimes that will mean working with the ministry directly. Sometimes it will be working with implementing partners. Sometimes it’ll be working with provincial level.
But it has to be an Afghan strategy. Agriculture is an area where they have a history of doing it quite well, and it’s what 85 percent of the people do. If we can’t get it right in agriculture, none of the other economic development will work. So it’s critically important. Rule of law, the judicial system – we’ve had extensive discussions about how we can be more effective in that area, and as we put people on the ground, how they can work in that area. It’s related to the corruption issue.
The third question --
DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: -- but I don’t remember which question you asked.
QUESTION: Just – I mean, this is not the first problem that you’ve had with the contractor.
DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: Oh, right. Well – yeah.
QUESTION: I mean, it seems that everybody’s singling in on these wild parties, but this is just like the latest in a long list of problems with this contract.
DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: There have been a number of actions taken, which we have obviously now gone back before our direct experience to kind of recreate the chronology and have a better picture of it, none of which indicated at the time that there was any security problem at the Embassy. I’m not aware that this particular story had developed at the level – with the photographs that came out while I was gone before.
The challenge of providing security is a very real one. And we have to kind of always focus that the first objective is to make sure our people are safe. But it really – regardless of whether work is being done by someone who is DS or a contractor, they have to comply with our rules, our laws, and our values. And if we find cases where that’s not the case, we have to take action.
QUESTION: Can I ask one on Afghanistan?
DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: Yeah.
QUESTION: Just about the political debate that’s in the country now, obviously, the President soon will have to make a decision on whether or not to send more troops to Afghanistan. I’m wondering, is this building – you, the Secretary and others – advocating for more troops to support the work you’re doing or the civilian work that you’re talking about?
DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: Obviously, there is going to be a lot of discussion of any recommendations that are forthcoming from General McChrystal’s review. I have been focusing, really, on the civilian implementation and making sure that we have the right people in the right place at the right time. So I’m not in a position to comment on it today.
MR. CROWLEY: One more
QUESTION: You know that you’re losing – that you’re losing political support (inaudible) from Democrats?
DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: Well, I think, in terms of the program that we’re pursuing there, we’ve got to remember why we’re there. We’re there because there’s a risk to the people of the United States. We’re there because of September 11th. It’s not a mission that was chosen.
The civilian program that we’re working on is very much looking towards how do you effectively work towards building conditions that can become sustainable. And while I’m as interested as anyone in what the military strategy on its own is, what I’ve been focusing on is how to make sure the civilian programming goes forward with the military so that we can do the job right and go into areas and leave behind capacity such that we don’t have to the kind of prolonged presence.
QUESTION: But following on – following on her question specifically, are you get – is your civilian effort getting lost and drowned out in all this talk about whether there should be more U.S. combat forces or more trainers or more Afghan troops in the sort of fight that’s building up on the Hill, that that is drawing attention away from the civilian effort?
DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: I actually think that in both instances, we have to remember that decisions were made in the spring, funds were appropriated in July, programming is being implemented August/September. We’re just now seeing the program go into place. I think we have to have a sense of urgency that we don’t, say, look back in a year. We’ve got to be willing to look at it every day to see how we’re doing.
But we also have to be realistic that we’re just implementing the initial plan. It’s an ambitious plan on the civilian side. Bringing a thousand civilians into Afghanistan and having them have the tools that they need and the capacity to be effective is a big job. I think we’re doing very well at the beginning of that process. My trip left me with a sense of a great deal more work to do, but that doesn’t surprise me at this stage of this process because we are at the beginning.
I think it would be a mistake to look at the civilian program now as if it’s a year or two years into it and fully mature. So we’ve got to stay with it. We’ve got to hold ourselves accountable. But we also have to give it a chance to be implemented.
QUESTION: On (inaudible) how will that fit into the metrics?
MR. CROWLEY: The Secretary’s got a meeting to go to, but we’ll take one more.
QUESTION: You spoke about the State Department’s role in police training, and that’s something that Ambassador Hill talked about extensively in testimony yesterday.
DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: He did.
QUESTION: Can you tell us what stage is that in? How the State Department is going to train --
DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: Are you talking about Iraq now?
QUESTION: -- the Iraqi police?
DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: Well, we’re --
QUESTION: Who’s going to do it and where the money comes from?
DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: Well, we’re in the process of making the final decision, so it would be premature for me to answer the question in any more detail than Ambassador Hill did yesterday. But I think that what I would say is it’s important to think about the ongoing mission differently than one thinks about the mission that we’re now drawing down.
The military presence in Iraq was pervasive and it was all over the country. In the area of police training, it was very much aimed at training individual Iraqi police in as many parts of the country as there was a U.S. military presence. With that now having been done, we’re focusing now on the higher-level training that is necessary to build capacity in targeted areas. And we’re talking about a mission that has a different shape to it than the original military mission did.
So it’s not just a question of transferring responsibility from one agency to another; it’s about working together to redefine the mission. And the mission going forward is getting closer to a normal relationship where we’re not – where there is governance and there are politics that are local, there is capacity that’s local, and you identify the gaps where we can make a difference. And this higher-order training is what we’re focusing on as we put together the plan.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) from the State Department?
DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: No. We do – we have police training activities in many parts of the world through the State Department. I think that it’s – in Iraq, it’s a new role – it’s an expanded role because we’re talking about the withdrawal of the U.S. military troops and having the civilian program be run in a more traditional way. So it looks more unusual in Iraq than it would in another country.
QUESTION: Sorry, can we just get one question on Pakistan?
DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: Yeah, sure.
QUESTION: How quickly – how well have the Pakistani authorities repelled the Taliban threat after their offensive? And then there’s the political issue later. I mean, are some of the IDPs radicalized? Is there still a risk they could be radicalized, and are the Taliban just going to come back in these areas very quickly?
DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: Some of those questions are beyond my brief.
DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: I’ll tell you, my observation is that it’s been a very serious and concerted effort by the Pakistani military. There is a sense of security in important population centers that wasn’t there before and there is a sense of determination; otherwise, people wouldn’t be going home voluntarily. That doesn’t mean that the problem is totally addressed. I think that it’s kind of – it’s important for the Pakistani Government to remain focused on it, and it’s going to be important for the Pakistan people to remain patient with the disruption that comes as they continue to move forward.
I didn’t have an opportunity to meet broadly enough to answer the kinds of questions about what the reaction in each town is. But through the lens of the group of IDPs that we spoke with, there was – the sense I got was people wanted to go home and they didn’t want to have to be afraid of the Taliban.
QUESTION: Thank you.
DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: Thanks.
MR. CROWLEY: Thank you very much.
QUESTION: He didn’t know the number of civilians who were in Helmand. Could you get that for us – the amount that are in right now?
MR. CROWLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: Thank you.
# # #