Afghanistan — Mullen Attends Kandahar Meeting, Visits Local Police

CAMP NATHAN SMITH, Afghanistan, July 26, 2010 — “We have left [Afghanistan] before,” Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said to Kan­da­har com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers here today. “It didn’t work.”

U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrives on Camp Nathan Smith in Kandahar, Afghanistan
U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrives on Camp Nathan Smith in Kan­da­har, Afghanistan, July 26, 2010. Mullen is vis­it­ing Afghanistan dur­ing a 10-day trip around the world to meet with coun­ter­parts and troops engaged in the war on ter­ror­ism.
DoD pho­to by U.S. Navy Pet­ty Offi­cer 1st Class Chad J. McNee­ley
Click to enlarge

The chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff met with the four men at the Cana­di­an-Amer­i­can camp in the city. It was the sec­ond time the chair­man had met with the men. He held a sim­i­lar shu­ra, or meet­ing, with them last year.

The meet­ing gave the chair­man an oppor­tu­ni­ty to hear from Afghans about what they believe are the prob­lems con­fronting them. Mullen told the Afghans that he was pleased to meet with them again, and urged them to be can­did with him.

And they were. “Do you bring secu­ri­ty, or do you bring vio­lence?” asked one of the Afghan lead­ers through a trans­la­tor. The Afghans told Mullen they are con­cerned that Kan­da­har will become a bat­tle­field, and that this should be avoid­ed. All men spoke with the under­stand­ing that their iden­ti­ties will be pro­tect­ed, lest the Tal­iban retal­i­ate against them or their fam­i­lies.

The Afghans told the admi­ral that not enough devel­op­ment mon­ey is reach­ing aver­age Afghans, and that men are work­ing for the Tal­iban as a way to feed their fam­i­lies.

And they want con­crete steps tak­en. “The first thing is that noth­ing has changed,” said one of the com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers via a trans­la­tor. The men had com­plaints about secu­ri­ty, about the may­or and provin­cial lead­ers. The Afghans also told Mullen that they were wor­ried about kid­nap­pings and ter­ror­ist attacks from Pak­istan.

“We hear that you are leav­ing,” one of the elders said to Mullen. “Who will help us then?”

The chair­man assured the men that the Unit­ed States is not leav­ing Afghanistan. Mullen was refer­ring to the end of the Sovi­et era in Afghanistan, when he’d told the Afghan men at the meet­ing that the Unit­ed States had left Afghanistan before and the result was 3,000 Amer­i­can dead in the wake of ter­ror­ist attacks in New York and Wash­ing­ton and the thwart­ed attack that end­ed in Penn­syl­va­nia on Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001.

“The oper­a­tions piece is to focus on secu­ri­ty,” Mullen told the Afghan men. This, he explained, will allow civil­ian agen­cies – both inter­na­tion­al and Afghan – to focus on bring­ing good gov­er­nance to Kan­da­har, the sec­ond-largest city in Afghanistan. The coali­tion and Afghan forces, he added, must “reduce the malign pres­ence” the Tal­iban, crime fam­i­lies and nar­co-traf­fick­ers impose.

The mil­i­tary option in Kan­da­har City is lim­it­ed, Mullen said.

“We are not going to be able to kill our way to suc­cess,” the chair­man said.

Cre­at­ing jobs is a key to rid­ding Kan­da­har of the Tal­iban, Mullen said. He agreed with one of the elders that if they could pro­duce 20 jobs for every 10 jobs lost, the Tal­iban would be gone.

Mullen also told the Afghan lead­ers that much progress has been made against the Tal­iban.

“We have learned and adjust­ed,” the admi­ral said. “The next sev­en to nine months will be absolute­ly crit­i­cal.”

Mullen left the shu­ra and trav­elled in a mine-resis­tant, ambush-pro­tect­ed Cougar vehi­cle to vis­it an Afghan police sta­tion. Some of the streets he trav­elled through were filled with trash and derelict build­ings. Oth­ers were clean and the shops filled with pro­duce, elec­tron­ic gear and store­front car and motor­cy­cle repair shops.

The con­voy crossed a canal where some Afghan chil­dren were swim­ming. Some of the chil­dren waved to the con­voy. Oth­ers threw rocks.

At the sta­tion, Mullen praised the Afghan police for their ded­i­ca­tion and their will­ing­ness to step for­ward to defend their nation and the Afghan peo­ple.

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

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