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Major-General Robert Fry, Royal Marines
Major-General Robert Fry, Royal Marines
BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW: MAJOR-GENERAL ROBERT FRY, Royal Marines MAY 5th, 2002

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST: British troops are currently involved in their biggest military operation probably since the Gulf War but trying to route out al-Qaeda troops in Afghanistan is proving to be an evasive task. Can they do it? Well I'm joined this morning from Bagram airport by the Task Force Commander himself, Major-General Robert Fry. Major-General, good morning.

MAJOR-GENERAL FRY: Good morning. Before we proceed Sir David can I just put one thing right, in fact I'm not the Task Force Commander, I'm the Commandant General of the Marines and that's the capacity in which I'm here.

DAVID FROST: Very good - that's very clear, thank you very much. How is progress. I mean it's an elusive target you're - have you had any signs yet that you, that you're making progress, that you're finding your quarry?

MAJOR-GENERAL FRY: Well I think we'd measure our quarry in a number of ways, I mean in your introduction there you talked specifically about, about the al-Qaeda and what we'd actually like to do is to, is to find them and engage them. But I don't think that's the only way in which we'll measure the success of this operation. What we're doing at the present time is clearing areas that they previously used, and would still continue to use as a safe haven or as a base to conduct training and operations. And when we find cases of weapons and ammunition, as we have and I'm sure we will continue to do so, then we destroy those straight away. We're also denying them any access into Afghanistan and we're deterring them at the same time and all of these things together I think result in a, in a dislocation of what they would wish to do. And whilst this is going on, we're creating the time which allows a political process to start inside Afghanistan. And I think what I'd encourage you to do is to look at this, this campaign in several dimensions, and the military is only one.

DAVID FROST: Right but in terms of handing on at some stage to the Afghans to police the situation, that's years away isn't it?

MAJOR-GENERAL FRY: No, I think - I don't think it's years away, I think that some of the political processes are already underway now. As you know the Loya Jirga will take place in the middle of June and the district elections which are part of that have already occurred. And then it will go onto regional elections and then finally in sequence it will get to the national procedure in Kabul. I think the first thing we need to do is to set up an administration which is viable, has popular support and is recognised by the international community and I think that can be done in the very near terms. What we need to do after that is then create an army which owes its loyalty to the government, rather than to the war lords which has been the traditional form of affairs in this country.

DAVID FROST: How long would you expect us to have British troops in Afghanistan?

MAJOR-GENERAL FRY: To be quite honest what I would far prefer to do is not so much speak in terms of time as speak in terms of effect. The effect that we're trying to create is to create the preconditions to allow the Afghans to run their own country, and I think that when, when we see that we will recognise it and that's the point and that's the time at which we can declare our mission here complete. But to, for me to place an arbitrary date on it, I think would be exactly that - entirely arbitrary.

DAVID FROST: Can we do anything about the Pakistani borders, the problems there of people crossing back and forth with impunity?

MAJOR-GENERAL FRY: Well I think we can do a number of things. I mean the first one is to seek the greatest political and diplomatic engagement with the Pakistani authorities, and that's underway now. We will also do exactly what we're doing today, which is to put a physical block on that border and make it either impossible or extremely difficult for anybody to get across. So I think that's, that's happening now, literally in those mountains behind me.

DAVID FROST: Thank you very much indeed, we're delighted you joined us this morning, Robert Fry there joining us from Kabul. Thank you very much indeed.

MAJOR-GENERAL FRY: Thank you.

INTERVIEW ENDS


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