CORKER: Well, I think the decision about the number of troops we have on the ground after 2014 is something that ought to be weighed as we move along. I realize we're going to be moving down to about 30,000 troops. I'm relatively comfortable with that, but I think as far as what we -- the contingent we have after 2014, I would wait, and I don't know of any reason why we would make that decision today. It seems that we'd want to see what the state of Afghanistan is. We'd want to see what's happening in the electoral process. All of those things are obviously big factors. My sense is there's no reason to decide whether 6,000, 9,000, 15,000 troops until we get to that point.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But, Senator Reed, how about this decision to pull back to simply training and support by the spring? Last month's Pentagon report said that only one of 23 Afghan battalions is now capable of operating on its own.
REED: Well, I was down in the (inaudible) Paktika Province, and essentially 83 percent of the operations in the eastern part are initiated and conducted by Afghan forces, so we are already seeing a transition, and by next spring the Afghani forces will be in the lead. That's what our military has been doing in preparing for the last several months, so I think we're making great progress.
There are issues ahead in terms of the election, but ultimately this has to be an Afghan-led effort. President Karzai recognizes that. I think the military leaders I met, both American and Afghan commanders, recognize it also. And there's something about a deadline that would coalesce and to spear action, and actions taking place dramatically in Afghanistan today.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Richard Haass, the president also addressed our overall success in Afghanistan on Friday. He said it was less than ideal and went on to say this --
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OBAMA: Have we been able, I think, to shape a strong relationship with a responsible Afghan government that is willing to cooperate with us to make sure that it is not a launching pad for future attacks against the United States, we have achieved that goal. We are in the process of achieving that goal.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: (inaudible) in the process of achieving that goal. Is he right about that and is it sustainable after 2014?
HAASS: The short answer is no. What we started in Afghanistan after 9/11 was a warranted war of necessity. We expanded it over the years, particularly under President Obama in 2009, when we tripled our forces, we decided to go after the Taliban, essentially join Afghanistan's civil war and nation build.
The idea that we're going to be able to leave behind a self-sustaining, capable Afghanistan able to -- or a government that's able to keep control of its territory, we are not going to be able to do it. It was a mistake to try. We are not going to achieve that result. Essentially what we're going to fall back to I would think is what we could have fallen back to years ago, a limited counterterrorism mission with trainers and advisers on the ground. And when we have to, we'll send in special forces or drones to deal with if there are, for example, remnants of al Qaeda to ever come back into the country.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me move on to the man the president wants to run the Pentagon through this process, Chuck Hagel, former senator. Here was the president announcing that pick earlier this week.
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