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Meet The Press -

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MEET THE PRESS

25 APRIL 2010

INTERVIEWS WITH MAJOR GENERAL JOHN CANTWELL AND PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY FOR DEFENCE MIKE KELLY.

DISCUSSIONS ABOUT ANZAC DAY, SUCCESS OF LOCAL NATIONALS IN ORUZGAN, THE CURRENT WORK OF AUSTRALIAN
TROOPS IN AFGHANISTAN, ATTITUDES TOWARDS PRESIDENT HAMID KARZAI AND TRANSPARENCY OF MILITARY
OPERATIONS IN AFGHANISTAN.

WOMAN: At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.

'MEET THE PRESS' PRESENTER HUGH RIMINTON: The most solemn secular day of our year. The timeless
lament of the Last Post there, from the dawn service this morning at the Australian War Memorial in
Canberra. Sounds and reflections repeated across Australia this morning. In our greatest cities,
and in countless towns and hamlets, as we remember. Welcome to 'Meet the Press' this Anzac Day, in
which we reflect on sacrifices past and present. We're going to take a good look today at our
current major conflict, in Afghanistan. In politics without guns, new lines have been drawn around
the Federal Government's health reform plans.

PRIME MINISTER KEVIN RUDD: (Thursday) Can I just appeal to Mr Abbott directly and to make clear,
absolutely clear today that he will not use his numbers in the Senate to block a further element of
health and hospitals reform.

OPPOSITION LEADER TONY ABBOTT: (Thursday) We won't be supporting any changes that involve broken
promises.

HUGH RIMINTON: Meanwhile, the final euthanasia of Canberra's disastrous home insulation scheme.

ASSISTANT ENERGY EFFICIENCY MINISTER GREG COMBET: (Thursday) In view of Dr Hawke's advice, the
government has determined not to proceed with the proposed insulation rebate.

HUGH RIMINTON: Next for the Government, the Henry Tax Review, and the Budget, that will have to
find ways to pay for all the promised new billions for health. In a moment - Major General John
Cantwell joins us from Afghanistan. And later the Parliamentary Secretary for Defence and former
20-year military veteran Dr Mike Kelly. But first, what the nation's papers are reporting this
Sunday, April 25, amid heavy Anzac Day coverage there is also breaking news. A New Zealand military
helicopter has crashed north of Wellington, killing three people. The helicopter was to be involved
in Anzac Day activities. Brisbane's 'Sunday Mail' reports the death of a two-year-old girl less
than 12 hours after receiving a vaccination for seasonal flu. The 'Sunday Age' says the financial
affairs of the Melbourne Storm's seven biggest stars will be examined, although they are not
suspected of conspiracy in the salary cap scandal. The 'Sunday Herald-Sun' reports there'll be
little for working families in the coming Federal budget, with the Treasurer set to favour
infrastructure spending instead. And the WA 'Sunday Times' reports the admission from State Greens
MP, Adele Carles, of an affair with the State Treasurer Troy Buswell. Both politicians are married
with children. Now from Afghanistan, the Commander of Australian forces in the region, Major
General John Cantwell. Good morning, General, and thanks very much for joining us. Today you have
something to celebrate this Anzac Day.

MAJOR GENERAL JOHN CANTWELL: We do have some celebration to do, although perhaps it's the wrong
term when we have just heard about the deaths of those New Zealand personnel in preparation for
their Anzac Day ceremony. Naturally, we will be thinking of them and their families today. As we
will be thinking of the families of Australians who have lost their lives in all conflicts and
particularly in Afghanistan here of late.

HUGH RIMINTON: You do have a battle in Afghanistan and you have some successes to report, just in
the last few days in the district of Oruzgan Province there in Gizab. Tell us what has taken place
there in the last couple of days.

MAJOR GENERAL JOHN CANTWELL: What we have seen here, in the last few days, has been the sort of
thing that we would love to see in other parts of Afghanistan, particularly in Oruzgan. We had
local national people that simply had enough of the Taliban ruining their lives and stood up to
them. They did so in a way that showed they were confident that we would come in and back them up
and that is exactly what we did. We used our special forces to come in as soon as we heard what was
occurring in Gizab, to take control of the situation to make sure that the locals were backed up
and supported and to deal with the local Taliban. And that has been tremendously successful and
allowed us to get an individual, a Taliban leader, who we had been after for some time. We're now
consolidating and ensuring that that sentiment that's arisen there is reinforced and supported.

HUGH RIMINTON: Give us an idea, if you can, of this place Gizab. Is it a small population, a
village, town? And how significant is it that the locals have turned against the Taliban who are
there among them?

MAJOR GENERAL JOHN CANTWELL: It is a small town in the north of Oruzgan. It is quite remote from
the regional centre. It is over 100 kilometres away at the end of very long valleys which are
difficult to get to. It is relatively remote. The uprising is quite small in terms of geographic
size. But it does show exactly the sorts of things that we can encourage in other parts of the
country. It's a tough terrain right through Afghanistan, particularly in our part of the world,
which is divided by very high mountains and then narrow strips of river, vegetation and population.
The population is very scattered and that is the case around Gizab - a small community, but one
which had decided of its on volition, to reject the Taliban. If we can keep that sort of sentiment
growing into other parts of the province, we will go a long way towards success that we're after
here.

HUGH RIMINTON: Give us a bit of the enemy that you have got there. Obviously we speak of the
Taliban, but are you really dealing with substantially local people who have lived all their lives
in this area? Or are you dealing more with fighters who are coming in from somewhere else? Or is it
a combination of both?

MAJOR GENERAL JOHN CANTWELL: It is a combination, Hugh, although the Taliban are locals in every
way. There are very few foreign fighters. Indeed, I haven't encountered any in our intelligence
reports in our part of Afghanistan. These are individuals who have an ideology which rejects all
things modern and which rejects all of those things that would make life better for the people of
Afghanistan. Schooling, women's rights, education, health - all of those things are anathema to
their philosophy. Most communities do not want this. But the stand over tactics, the threats of
violence that they use, make it very hard for the locals to be able to push them away, which is why
we're so pleased with what's just occurred in Gizab...

HUGH RIMINTON: We are expecting... Sorry to interrupt you there. We're expecting in the next few
months a big push in Kandahar Province. How will that affect the conditions that you expect to face
on the ground? Might there be a displacement of fighters into your area of operations? Is there
likely to be any flow-on effects to be alert to?

MAJOR GENERAL JOHN CANTWELL: There may well be some effects such as that. I do not anticipate there
will be major effects. We will be making our own contribution towards the operations around
Kandahar. I think it's important, though, to compare and contrast that which will happen in
Kandahar in a little while by that which occurred back in Helmand Province a little while ago. We
won't see the large military operations that led that peace. What we will see is setting the
conditions to get better governance in - to make sure that the local police, the local security
forces, the Afghans - can set up a better arrangement for running day-to-day life around Kandahar.
We will run and the ISAF forces will conduct military operations to support that. But the
centrepiece of the operations that are coming up is about getting the governance right - letting
the people of Afghanistan, and particularly around Kandahar, run their lives the way they should be
able to. To get to the shops, to get their kids to school where that exists, to run their lives
like normal people want to.

HUGH RIMINTON: Can I just ask you, in Anzac Days to come, when Afghan campaign veterans march, do
you think Australians will have any real idea of what you have faced over there, any understanding
of the nature of this particular conflict?

MAJOR GENERAL JOHN CANTWELL: I know that we are a long way from everyday life back home. In fact,
that is a good thing. This is a pretty tough place and I would not want to see anywhere in
Australia have the sorts of terrible social problems and violence that we see here every single
day. I hope that we can tell people what we're doing here. We're trying to do more of that this
year. What Australians should recognise about what is happening here is that we are trying to help
a community that needs our resistance. It needs the help of the international community, and we are
part of that. Our soldiers are out there every single day, patrolling through fields, up roads,
tracks, through villages, trying to find the explosive devices - the IEDs, improvised explosive
devices - that the Taliban lay everywhere - which, by the way, kill more Afghans than it does
Coalition - to try and clear those devices away to prevent the Taliban from bullying and taxing and
killing and destroying the life of these people. They deserve better. They are lovely people. When
you get to talk to the villagers in this province, they are lovely people. They just want to get on
with their lives and we're trying to help them do that. And our diggers are wonderful at this. I
don't know what it is about the Australian character that brings out this wonderful ability to be
sympathetic to the people that we're trying to help - to be automatically and instinctively reach
out a hand to a child, to smile and wave and to do it in a very Aussie way, at the same time stay
professional and on the ball to look after their mates and make sure we keep each other safe. It is
a wonderful thing to watch and I wish that every Australian could see what our young diggers are
doing because it would make every Australian tremendously proud, just like I am.

HUGH RIMINTON: Well, General Cantwell, thank you very much. Thank you for joining us. It's very
early in the morning over there, I do know. And to the men and women serving with you there, our
best wishes today and every day on this mission.

MAJOR GENERAL JOHN CANTWELL: Thank you very much, Hugh.

HUGH RIMINTON: We will take a break. When we return, the parliamentary Secretary of Defence Mike
Kelly, the only current Federal member of parliament who has seen active service in the military,
and also our panel. But first, let's hear from some of our troops in the field on their feelings
this Anzac Day.

MAN: Welcome to Afghanistan.

MAN 2: I would like to thank all of those past members who have served and thank you for letting us
be the ones to carry on your traditions on Anzac Day.

MAN 3: Big thanks for all of your support and everything you have been sending over to us. It's
much-appreciated. Makes us smile.

WOMAN: I'd like to say a quick hello to my mum and my dad and of course Jade. Happy Anzac Day
everyone and carn the Pies!

MEN AND WOMEN: Australia, have a safe and enjoyable Anzac Day.

HUGH RIMINTON: Welcome back. You're with 'Meet the Press'. We're joined now by the Parliamentary
Secretary for Defence, Dr Mike Kelly. Good morning.

DR MIKE KELLY: Good morning, Hugh.

HUGH RIMINTON: And also we welcome our panel, Ian McPhedran, Chief Defence correspondent for News
Limited and Sara James, US NBC Correspondent in Australia. Good morning, Ian and Sara.

'NEWS LIMITED'S IAN MCPHEDRAN: Good morning.

NBC'S SARA JAMES: Good morning.

HUGH RIMINTON: Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has been calling for a near doubling of our commitment
in Afghanistan - calling, in fact, for Australian troops to fill the gap when the Dutch contingent
leaves Oruzgan Province in August.

TONY ABBOTT: (Friday) It would be a poor reflection on our defence capabilities and value as an
ally if we are truly unable to help. Certainly, General Jim Molan, the Australian former chief of
operations for the multinational force in Iraq, says that we could and should take the lead in
Oruzgan Province.

SARA JAMES: Dr Kelly, the PM says this suggestion is reckless. Why is it reckless?

DR MIKE KELLY: It is dangerously simplistic to talk about our operations in Afghanistan simply in
terms of troop numbers. This situation is a counter-insurgency operation and the general rule of
thumb is that those situations require about a 20% military security effort and about an 80%
social-economic political effort. It is not about how many troops you've got there, it's about the
effect you are trying to generate and the ultimate measure of success will be the capacity of the
Afghanistan authorities that we build and enforcing a process which results in our own redundancy.

SARA JAMES: But, Dr Kelly, we just heard General Cantwell talk about the fact of the success they
had when the Aussie diggers were there to, in his words, 'pile on'. If you add another 1,000,
wouldn't you be able to give the Afghan people more help that they desperately need?

DR MIKE KELLY: We know that the Afghan people need help across the board in those other areas that
I mentioned, and what we are trying to achieve here is building their capacity - their capacity
economically, their capacity to police, their good governance, the rule of law. Those are the
things that will result in our ability to draw down our troop presence in Afghanistan.

IAN MCPHEDRAN: Do you think that the Australian community would be happy to see a larger Australian
commitment in Afghanistan?

DR MIKE KELLY: We have made an extra commitment in Afghanistan, as the Prime Minister announced
yesterday, in those key areas that I mentioned - an increase in DFAT, AusAID and AFP personnel. So
this is the key to success and what I think we have all learnt in these complex environments is
that it is meshing the military and civilian strategy and strategy has been the missing link in
that respect in recent times and that is something that this government was determined to address,
and of course we've now established a Civil Military Centre of Excellence in Queanbeyan to also
forge that better approach to civil military operations in these complex counter-insurgency
environments. I think that is what the Australian public want to see. They want to see a strategy,
a way out, and also an effective approach to dealing with the situation on the ground, - whatever
mix that needs to be in terms of the military, civilian and aid input.

IAN MCPHEDRAN: But you would know that in Tarin Kaur, the aid workers, the civilian police, the
DFAT personnel very seldom leave the compound because the security situation in the province is far
too dangerous. They are actually sitting in the compound. Is that what they will be doing in the
future?

DR MIKE KELLY: This is a situation where you need to be able to provide the right assets for the
right circumstances. So when the security situation is so high - the threat level is so high - that
only military personnel can be involved, then obviously you need them to be picking up the slack.
But what we need to get to is an environment where we can operate effectively together from a civil
military point of view and that is what our effort is directed at now. Certainly, those
environments mean that we have to have the local capacity to provide that extra security. No matter
how many thousands of troops we put in there, at the end of the day it will be the Afghan
authorities that will create the general security and also the attitude of the population. If one
of the factors that you have to be always aware of is the troop presence itself sometimes cause
disquiet amongst the population. So we need them to be seeing us to be working in conjunction with
the local authorities to create that benign environment and also for getting Afghanis involved in
delivering some of these projects as well.

HUGH RIMINTON: Mike, we just heard from General Cantwell that the Taliban they are facing in
Oruzgan Province for the most part are people born a raised there - they are not foreign fighters.
They will be there after we leave. How much time will it take for us to be there, to secure it down
to the point where the Taliban - local people - are no longer a threat to the other people living
in their province?

DR MIKE KELLY: Obviously it's very complex. It is not just a question of the hardcore Islamic
fundamentalist Taliban. There are some other elements that, if you like, pile on occasionally to
Taliban activities. But you've also got a high level of bandit activity in Zabul Province, for
example. That seems to be the main issue there. So there are simple rule of law issues and
reconciliation issues that involve the ethnic divisions - that sort of thing. So what we need to do
is to make sure that we continue to concentrate on building the capacity of the police and military
and that is what our military effort is really directed to with working with the 4th Brigade to be
able to hand over to them in due course, and however long that takes, we are committed to it. But
that should be a shorter span of years, hopefully, than any sort of open-ended, long-term military
presence that would not be achieving that result of building local capacity.

SARA JAMES: But isn't it an enormous part of the problem, the Karzai Government itself? How much
confidence do you have in that government, which is rife with corruption and which is talked about
peace talks with the Taliban?

DR MIKE KELLY: There is no question that there are very severe governance issues in Afghanistan
from top to bottom that need to be addressed over time. Obviously we have been working closely with
those authorities. It is a difficult situation in a post-conflict environment to have that - to put
in place the accountability mechanisms that you need to ensure that, and that is what our effort is
now directed to. Certainly, you can't have effective aid and development activities without good
governance and accountability. The effect on the ground dissipates badly. People will see that
there is corruption and that the aid is not being effective, so it is very important to make sure
that we address those good governance, rule of law and accountability aspects as we also deploy our
aid effort and development assistance.

HUGH RIMINTON: We will take a break now. We'll be back in a moment with more from Dr Mike Kelly.

MAN: I am here in sunny Afghanistan just wishing everyone at home a safe and enjoyable Anzac Day.
Also if I could, a special shout-out to my wife and son who I love dearly.

MAN 2: I love you and I miss you all and I hope that everyone in Australia appreciates what we're
doing because we appreciate the support and attention that we get from you guys, so thank you.

MAN 3: Have a beer for me on Anzac Day. And if you see a digger, buy a beer for him.

MAN 4: I hope you all enjoy this day, as we remember together those who have fallen. Lest we
forget.

HUGH RIMINTON: Welcome back. This is 'Meet the Press'. We have as our guest Dr Mike Kelly. Let's
get back to the issue of the President of Afghanistan. US President Barack Obama this month touched
on one of the trickier issues in that country, and that is the diminishing political credibility of
President Hamid Karzai. The US says Obama is not in Afghanistan just to support one man, but it
appears President Karzai remains central to the mission.

US PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We can't succeed unless President Karzai moves forward on the reforms
that are so necessary.

IAN MCPHEDRAN: Dr Kelly, President Karzai is a very unstable character. Some people say he is nuts.
Do you know him and do you understand the depth of the problem that the Coalition has with this
man?

DR MIKE KELLY: I do not know him personally, but obviously his position is a reflection of the will
of the Afghan people. We have to work within that and grow processes of democracy over time. You
don't wave a magic wand and have a perfect Jeffersonian or Westminster democracy overnight. I have
often experienced in many post-conflict environments the dynamic that you need to create a culture
of democracy as well as the institutions, and that's gonna be a long, slow process. So for however
long our troops are present, we are going to be involved in helping to build that sort of capacity
and culture over many, many years in Afghanistan.

IAN MCPHEDRAN: That's right. Many years. But he is referred to often as the Mayor of Kabul rather
than the President of Afghanistan. Support is very limited outside of the capital and the election
process was deemed rather fraudulent. How long do you think this process may take?

DR MIKE KELLY: It will take decades to achieve a stable democracy in Afghanistan. But it has to be
built not only in terms of the central government, but also the provincial governments. Certainly,
our focus is on building capacity in Oruzgan Province and then trying to marry that up to the
central government. What we need to have is the loyalty of the Afghan people to their government
system. Something that they are prepared to fight and die for. That is a very important, critical
piece to the puzzle. That is really going to be the measure of success in the long-term.

SARA JAMES: But it's pretty complicated, isn't it? Because you have got the US adding an additional
30,000 troops and yet casualties have actually increased in the first three months of this year as
compared to last year. And we're talking about drawing down in 2011? Is that feasible?

DR MIKE KELLY: This is a question that relates to the effectiveness of the strategy overall, over
that time, and certainly, the added numbers of troops that have been deployed in there are working
towards a strategy that General McChrystal and the overall NATO command is putting in place. That
strategy is not based on the old concept of, "We'll kill our way to success". It is based on a
strategy of identifying the people of Afghanistan as the centre of gravity. It is a short-term
situation to create an immediate security comfort zone, to improve the general position of
governance in Afghanistan.

SARA JAMES: So what are the real markers that we have that can tell us whether or not we are
succeeding or we're failing?

DR MIKE KELLY: Obviously the situation needs to be improved in terms of the preparedness of local
people to step forward, to fill local governance roles, for people to be confident in the security
of their local environments to do that. Longer term, what we are interested in, in terms of our own
military commitment, is to achieve the capacity of the 4th Brigade to conduct security operations
and back up local governance in Afghanistan. We can work on those other issues, but building the
economic and cultural strength of Afghanistan to be a stable democracy. But in the short-term,
we're very focused on building that capacity and we are making good progress on training that 4th
Brigade.

IAN MCPHEDRAN: John Cantwell said he wished that the Australian people could see what the diggers
are doing in Afghanistan. We in the media are very desperate to tell the Australian people what
they are doing, but the military are somewhat reluctant. Will your government force the military to
be more open and to tell that story?

DR MIKE KELLY: Certainly that's been a key feature of the Minister John Faulkner's approach to the
department. He wants to create a more open culture, a more transparent administration. Certainly,
there are issues that we have to always bear in mind when you're dealing with operations like this.
One dimension of what we're doing there is the Special Operations Task Group and a high degree of
security is often necessary for the operations that they conduct. So you have to get that balance
right between operational security and transparency and we will continue to work towards that.

IAN MCPHEDRAN: John Faulkner said operational security would not be an excuse for transparency, but
it still is.

DR MIKE KELLY: Well, it is not an excuse, but you do have to bear it in mind. You can't threaten
the potential success of operations, or put your personnel at risk. It is always better to err on
the side of safety and security of your personnel in this sort of environment and I think that the
Australian people understand that.

HUGH RIMINTON: You have seen a lot of war, a lot of military service and now you are in the
government side of things. Mike Kelly, what gets you startled awake in the middle of the night?
What is your deepest fear for Australia? Might it be an Iranian nuclear weapon? What is the worst
case?

DR MIKE KELLY: Certainly in these current years and the years ahead, the threat from terrorism is
the most significant threat I think we face, and particularly the exploitation of terrorists of
these ungoverned spaces. It is a particularly difficult challenge and that's what's consumed most
of my career. But certainly, the Iranian drive to acquire nuclear weapons is deeply concerning and
something that I think will be the greatest short-term challenge for the international community as
a whole. Obviously, the magnitude and order of threat from a situation like that is much greater
than what ordinary terrorists can create on a day-to-day basis.

HUGH RIMINTON: Unfortunately we are out of time. Thank you very much for being with us, Dr Mike
Kelly.

DR MIKE KELLY: Sure. Thank you.

HUGH RIMINTON: Thanks also to our panel, Ian McPhedran and Sara James. A transcript and a replay of
this program will be available on our website. Until next week, goodbye.