For more than three years, Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton has been leading US efforts to transform Palestinian security forces into a trusted, respected, dependable, professional force.
Doing so is considered one of the first and most important tasks in the Road Map for Middle East peace.
Israel isn't going to relinquish control of the West Bank until it has assurances that it can trust the PA security that is supposed to take over.
Dayton and the US security plan have received their share of criticism.
(In 2007, my colleague Warren Strobel and I wrote about the US foreign policy missteps that helped spark the Hamas takeover of Gaza.)
Dayton has kept a low profile while doing his work here.
But now he is speaking out to offer a rare public assessment of his work here.
In a recent speech at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Dayton offers rare insight into the work he has been doing here for the last three years.
Dayton boasts of creating "new men" through the training program:
"Upon the return of these new men of Palestine," Dayton said, "they have shown motivation, discipline and professionalism, and they have made such a difference—and I am not making this up—that senior IDF commanders ask me frequently, 'How many more of these new Palestinians can you generate, and how quickly, because they are our way to leave the West Bank.'"
The most interesting moments of the talk come when Dayton discusses the reaction of the Israeli military to his work. Dayton says the IDF has gone from being skeptical and resistant to being supportive and encouraging.
Dayton highlights Hebron as a success story:
"Let me dwell on Hebron for a minute, because if any of you know about Hebron, this is a very difficult place, okay?" Dayton said "It's the largest city in the West Bank, it has a very large and aggressive settler population, and it is a very holy site for the Jewish people and for the Arab people.
"A year ago, the IDF rejected any suggestion that the Palestinian Authority should be allowed to reinforce its garrison in Hebron, which was a small force of only about four hundred police and gendarmes for this, the largest governorate in the West Bank. And we wanted to reinforce them with some of the graduates of the Jordan program. They said no.
"Yet the performance of these Jordan-trained graduates in Jenin, which was their first deployment, was so impressive that six months later, the IDF not only allowed the reinforcement in Hebron, but led it, facilitated it, and extended it. It's still going on. And the results of this reinforcement have been electric. There were villages in the Hebron governorate that had not seen a uniformed Palestinian policeman since 1967. Think about that. Not anymore."
The speech has plenty for policy wonks to munch on.