Afghanistan — Afghan Perceptions Key to Success, McChrystal Says

WASHINGTON, May 13, 2010 — Chang­ing the per­cep­tions of the Afghan peo­ple about the coali­tion, their own gov­ern­ment and the Tal­iban will be key to suc­cess in that nation, the com­man­der of the Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force and U.S. forces in Afghanistan said here today.

Army Gen. Stan­ley A. McChrys­tal told Pen­ta­gon reporters that achiev­ing more progress in the coun­terin­sur­gency cam­paign in Afghanistan will be a slow, delib­er­ate endeav­or, because chang­ing per­cep­tions is challenging. 

Efforts in the coun­try will be direct­ed toward “chang­ing not only the dynam­ics of secu­ri­ty, gov­er­nance and devel­op­ment, but also the atti­tudes of a pop­u­la­tion long pres­sured by insur­gents,” he said. 

The strate­gic pri­or­i­ty in the coun­try is the devel­op­ment of Afghan nation­al secu­ri­ty forces, McChrys­tal said. “While both the army and police have demon­strat­ed con­sid­er­able growth,” he said, “sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenges remain. The bot­tom line is there’s much more work ahead to mature Afghan secu­ri­ty forces. But I’m pleased with the progress made thus far.” The oper­a­tional cen­ter in the coun­try will be in south­ern Afghanistan, the gen­er­al said. The area – includ­ing Kan­da­har and Hel­mand provinces – is the hub for the insur­gents and an eco­nom­ic engine for the coun­try as a whole. 

“Ten months ago, we began a series of oper­a­tions into Tal­iban-con­trolled parts of the cen­tral Hel­mand Riv­er val­ley, expand­ing the Afghan government’s influ­ence in key areas,” McChrys­tal said. “There’s been con­sid­er­able progress in secu­ri­ty and gov­er­nance. But as is expect­ed in coun­terin­sur­gency, progress is often slow and deliberate.” 

The oper­a­tional fight will be cen­tered in and around Kan­da­har city. The gen­er­al said there will not be a “D‑Day” for the oper­a­tions to begin in the city, because it is a unique­ly com­plex envi­ron­ment that requires as much gov­ern­men­tal and polit­i­cal pres­sure as mil­i­tary involvement. 

“This effort is being led by the Afghans, and will focus on the com­plex polit­i­cal and gov­er­nance aspects of Kan­da­har,” McChrys­tal told reporters. 

While Kan­da­har is the spir­i­tu­al home of the Tal­iban, the insur­gents do not con­trol the city. McChrys­tal said he and Army Gen. David H. Petraeus – the com­man­der of U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand – walked through the streets of Kan­da­har two weeks ago. Still, he added, the Tal­iban are tar­get­ing local offi­cials for assas­si­na­tion, and insur­gents are intim­i­dat­ing people. 

Many insur­gen­cies use tar­get­ed assas­si­na­tions as a way to intim­i­date the pop­u­la­tion and under­cut the abil­i­ty of the gov­ern­ment to estab­lish effec­tive mech­a­nisms, McChrys­tal explained. “That’s what I think we’re see­ing here,” he said. “Cer­tain­ly, some of those mur­ders may be crim­i­nal­ly relat­ed, but there is a clear insur­gent thrust to the pri­ma­ry part of this.” 

Engag­ing the pop­u­la­tion is the way to counter this group of ter­ror­ist thugs, McChrys­tal said, explain­ing that the coali­tion must engage the nat­ur­al lead­ers – trib­al elders and polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic lead­ers – so that their par­tic­i­pa­tion helps shape the vision, and so they clear­ly buy into Afghan gov­ern­ment and coali­tion ini­tia­tives. The gen­er­al began shap­ing oper­a­tions with Kan­da­har lead­ers months ago. “This is some­thing that’s ongo­ing, and it’s a process, not an event,” he said. 

The process will take time, and Amer­i­cans should expect increased vio­lence as the coali­tion and Afghan secu­ri­ty forces expand into Tal­iban-con­trolled areas, McChrys­tal said. “Over time,” he added, “secu­ri­ty respon­si­bil­i­ties will tran­si­tion to Afghans.” 

Coun­terin­sur­gency efforts are long-term and depend more on process, not a sud­den event, the gen­er­al said. Coali­tion and Afghan troops enter­ing an area have to secure it, and then the Afghan gov­ern­ment – with coali­tion help – must deliv­er basic ser­vices to the peo­ple – edu­ca­tion, health, trans­port, elec­tric­i­ty, water and so on. 

“It’s halt­ing and it’s chal­leng­ing,” McChrys­tal said. “In areas where there has been very lit­tle capac­i­ty before, to intro­duce that is hard. And to con­vince the peo­ple is even hard­er, because they watch the change in secu­ri­ty, they watch the begin­nings of gov­er­nance, the begin­nings of devel­op­ment, and they have to … see it to believe it. “But they can’t just see it once,” he con­tin­ued. “They have to see it until they believe it’s durable, until they believe it’s real.” 

In talk­ing with Afghan groups, McChrys­tal said, he is sure they want to be convinced. 

“I think that that is the chal­lenge over time,” he said. “It’s real­ly a gov­ern­ment-of-Afghanistan chal­lenge, with our help. They must con­vince the peo­ple they have the capa­bil­i­ty to deliv­er, and then the polit­i­cal will to fol­low through.” 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →