Afghanistan — Kandahar Will Be Big Political Test for NATO, Sedwill Says

WASHINGTON — Progress in Kan­da­har is going to be the big polit­i­cal test for the NATO mis­sion in Afghanistan, the NATO senior civil­ian rep­re­sen­ta­tive to Afghanistan said recent­ly.

Ambas­sador Mark Sed­will said the NATO-led Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force must show progress by the alliance’s Novem­ber sum­mit in Lis­bon, Por­tu­gal. Progress in Kan­da­har is a must. 

“We’re not seek­ing to have trans­for­ma­tion­al progress on the ground – that’s not going to hap­pen – but we are seek­ing to have deci­sive progress,” Sed­will said in the Afghan cap­i­tal of Kab­ul last week. 

In oth­er words, he said, NATO needs to have the momen­tum in Kan­da­har to be mov­ing in the right direc­tion. The for­mer British ambas­sador to Afghanistan said that offi­cials real­ize that progress will include set­backs, and that there will be ups and downs as the insur­gents push back as ISAF and Afghan forces make progress. But the net effect, he said, will be that the peo­ple of the area will become con­fi­dent in the out­come, and their own behav­ior will start to change. 

“We’re see­ing that in parts of Hel­mand [province] where we have been for more than a year,” Sed­will said. “We’re see­ing this in Region­al Com­mand East, where the U.S. forces have been doing this with the right lev­el of resources for two or three years.” He said the change is begin­ning in Mar­ja, but it is too ear­ly to see the changes yet in Kandahar. 

Sed­will said the new ISAF com­man­der, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus has­n’t made major changes to the Kan­da­har plan. “It’s a delib­er­ate effort there, and it always has been,” the ambas­sador said. “He will look at the details of course, to see if the tac­tics and the resources are right, but the broad plan … is basi­cal­ly the same one that [British Maj. Gen.] Nick Carter (pro­posed.” Carter com­mands ISAF forces in south­ern Afghanistan. 

Petraeus’ style is very dif­fer­ent from that of the for­mer com­man­der, Army Gen. Stan­ley A. McChrys­tal, Sed­will said, but the whole NATO effort in Afghanistan breathed a sigh of relief when Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma chose Petraeus for the job. Petraeus already has a strong rela­tion­ship with Gen. Ash­faq Kayani, the Pak­istani army’s chief of staff. He knows Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai and is build­ing a bet­ter rela­tion­ship with the Afghan leader. 

“He is a very strate­gic thinker,” the ambas­sador said. “Those of us deal­ing in the polit­i­cal space know that we have to be at the top of our game, because he is very com­fort­able deal­ing there as well.” 

This year is the deci­sive year in Afghanistan, Sed­will said. NATO must demon­strate the com­pre­hen­sive plan the alliance has built upon the Oba­ma strat­e­gy will work. 

In 2009, the Tal­iban and its allies took the momen­tum. NATO lead­ers had to admit that “secu­ri­ty had got worse year after year, gov­er­nance had flat-lined and the only bright spot was the econ­o­my and social progress, because we’re good at that,” he said. By the end of the year, he added, he hopes to demon­strate that the dete­ri­o­ra­tion is arrest­ed and the secu­ri­ty sit­u­a­tion is begin­ning to improve. 

“It was a fair­ly pre­cip­i­tous decline, so just arrest­ing the decline and begin­ning to turn it around will be fair­ly deci­sive,” he said. 

The alliance and the Afghan gov­ern­ment need to work on improv­ing the deliv­ery of ser­vices to the pop­u­la­tion and they must do some­thing to address gov­ern­ment cor­rup­tion, he said. Pol­i­tics is about momen­tum and per­cep­tions, Sed­will said. “Look at Iraq. We’re nowhere near as bad as we were in Iraq in terms of vio­lence, and yet because the momen­tum was head­ed the wrong way, peo­ple have start­ed to lose con­fi­dence,” he said. “If we turn the momen­tum around, peo­ple will start to regain it.” 

Per­cep­tion will always lag real­i­ty, the ambas­sador said, but if the alliance lead­ers in Afghanistan can demon­strate to the NATO lead­ers in Lis­bon that there is mea­sur­able progress, that will cre­ate a “psy­cho­log­i­cal state among heads of state and for­eign min­is­ters” that will trans­late in turn to pop­u­lar sup­port, Sed­will said. That back­ing is cru­cial to con­tin­u­ing the mis­sion to the ambi­tious 2014 dead­line Karzai has for Afghan forces tak­ing over the secu­ri­ty mis­sion in the country. 

If lead­ers can show “a decent end state is in sight, if not with­in reach; there is less a chance for coun­tries div­ing for the emer­gency exits,” he said. 

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

More news and arti­cles can be found on Face­book and Twitter.

Fol­low GlobalDefence.net on Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

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

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →