(CBS News) Officials say a man wearing an Afghan army uniformat a NATO base Monday morning.
General John Allen, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan,about the relationship between the U.S. and the Afghan government.
"CBS This Morning" co-host Charlie Rose spoke to him Friday about the recent killing of Afghan civilians, and his assessment of the current threat from al Qaeda.
A transcript of that interview is below. Scroll down to watch an extended version of the interview
Charlie Rose: Tell me where you see the effort in Afghanistan today.
General John Allen: Well, I think we've come a long way in the last several years, and in particular over the last couple of years. We're seeking to move the Afghan national security forces ultimately into the lead as our partners in this counter-insurgency. And piece by piece, the terrain of Afghanistan, the people of Afghanistan, secured by the security forces of Afghanistan, will continue the process of moving towards full transition.
Rose: Many people look at the relationship on that question and say there is corruption in that government - and whether that government can provide the kind of leadership that will enable them to make their commitments to their own security.
Allen: There is corruption in that government and President [Hamid] Karzai acknowledges it himself - and I think that's a very good going-in position, frankly. He talks about partnering with us, he talks about working within the Afghan government to eliminate the culture of impunity.
Rose: Can you achieve the mission without being able to deal with that corruption in a significant way?
Allen: Well, we are dealing with the corruption and we can accomplish the mission dealing with it. But we won't solve it all at the same time. It's going to take time.Watch an a video of the extended interview below.
Rose: And at the pace of the Afghan forces being able to take responsibility, you believe that by 2014, when American forces are essentially withdrawn, the Afghan force will be able to stabilize Afghanistan and prevent a Taliban takeover?
Allen: By the end of 2014, it is the end of the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) mission. I believe that the ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces) will have completed security transition by the end of 2014. They won't be alone. We will still be there in some number, to be determined, which will continue the process of the professionalization of the Afghan national security forces and the improvement of their capabilities.
Rose: What happens if we're not there? Is it possible that this isn't a place that Americans should be dying for somebody else?
Allen: This mission is essential, in ways that perhaps in other conflicts have not necessarily been apparent. There is a direct line relationship between what happened in Afghanistan in the work up to 11 September 2001 and what we're doing in Afghanistan today.Rose: Al Qaeda does not have a strong presence in Afghanistan today, and many of the leaders of al Qaeda have been killed, including Osama bin Laden.
Allen: It remains a virulent organization, even in small numbers because the planning doesn't necessarily facilitate - doesn't necessarily require large numbers of people to execute. The execution can come from somewhere else.
We don't want the Taliban to put down roots, or the al Qaeda to put down roots in Afghanistan that can facilitate Afghanistan becoming - once again - a launching pad for international terrorism.
Rose: Here is a quote from the New York times by two respective reporters - Helene Cooper and Eric Schmidt, "The Obama administration is discussing whether to reduce American forces in Afghanistan, by at least an additional 20,000 troops by 2013 - reflecting a growing belief within the White House that the mission there has now reached the point of diminishing returns."
Allen: I've had no indications from the administrations that they desire a particular number. In the aftermath of my mission - which will be to return the 23,000 troops - the remaining surge troops by the end of September of 2012.
Rose: What do you worry about the most?
Allen: I worry that the complications from these recent events can distract us from the larger strategic imperative of this campaign. We have seen that while the relationship may have been bruised in these events, the relationship has not been broken.
Rose: Characterize what bruised means.
Allen: There has been no call for the severing of the relationship between the United States and Afghanistan. We have to demonstrate that we're a reliable partner. And we can't permit - as tragic as that is - that event to define the relationship between the United States and Afghanistan.
Rose: Do you believe that Sgt. Bales is a casualty of war?
Allen: I'd prefer not to comment on that. Obviously we have an investigation that still needs to be completed and ultimately through that investigation the process of adjudicating this to the military justice system.
Rose: Let me just ask this: you are optimistic, it's fair to say, that this mission can be accomplished?
Allen: When I look into the eyes of our troops and I see their dedication to this mission, I am optimistic that we will accomplish this mission.
This campaign is on track. The ANSF is moving in to the lead, they want to be responsible, ultimately, for ending this insurgency. They want to be responsible for protecting the people from the Taliban.