TAPPER: July was the deadliest month for U.S. troops in Afghanistan since the war began there, and I was wondering if you could convey what's being accomplished in exchange for this treasure?
GIBBS: Well, obviously, let me begin by doing what the president would do, which is to honor and laud the sacrifice of men and women serving overseas and to their families, especially to those who have paid such a tremendous price to protect our freedom. You heard the president throughout the campaign and throughout the first six months here talk about the fact that for quite some time we'd taken our eyes off of the ball in Afghanistan, that we needed to improve the security situation, particularly as we led to elections there in the next month.
We reviewed the policy and made some initial adjustments in forces. General McChrystal is in Afghanistan and is continuing to review our policy. I think what's also important, you've heard the president discuss, Jake, that progress in Afghanistan — and what we want to do, obviously, is destroy and defeat those that are plotting terror against our country and others — that we're not going to be successful simply by military means alone. We have to increase our focus on development, on agriculture, on civil society. Only through both means are we going to see progress. I will say that I think the President understands this that it’s going to take quite some time to change the focus of what we have been doing over the course of many years there against the enemy.
TAPPER: Can you elaborate on what specifically has been accomplished here?
GIBBS: Well again I think, I think we are making progress in the security environment understanding that it is still an exceedingly dangerous place. We have benchmarks to measure progress. And, Jake, we will continue, continually review the policy in order to make a determination that we’re seeing the progress the president wants in destroying and defeating the enemy there.
TAPPER: Are the Afghans meeting the benchmarks?
GIBBS: We’re satisfied with the progress they are making. We also understand much as was the case in Iraq and I think you’ve seen this as a big focus in what General McChrystal is doing both now and planning for in the future and that is to strengthen and fortify the Afghan security forces. Much like Iraq, we cannot, we cannot be there forever. Afghans are going to have to provide a measure of their own security much as we asking Iraqis to do and what they’re doing in their own country. There’s no doubt that for a long time the President believed we did not have the manpower and the resources that were needed to make progress and we’re certainly hopeful that we’re on track for doing more of that.