Afghanistan — Mullen: Kandahar Vital to Success in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON, June 16, 2010 — Kan­da­har, the spir­i­tu­al home of the Tal­iban, is the key to suc­cess in Afghanistan and the U.S. mil­i­tary is work­ing with Afghan forces to turn the tide against the insur­gents, the chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the defense sub­com­mit­tee of the Sen­ate Appro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee today.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen and Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates tes­ti­fied on the fis­cal 2011 Defense Bud­get request.

Mullen told the sen­a­tors that Kan­da­har, the sec­ond-largest city in Afghanistan, is the birth­place of the Tal­iban. Tal­iban chief­tain Mul­lah Omar ruled Afghanistan from a palace in Kan­da­har. Today, the insur­gents train, equip, plan attacks and intim­i­date Kandahar’s cit­i­zens.

“Just the oth­er day, in a vil­lage not far away, these peo­ple lynched a small boy of sev­en claim­ing he was a spy for the coali­tion,” Mullen said.

Hold­ing ter­ri­to­ry means lit­tle in a coun­terin­sur­gency fight, “but it is from Kan­da­har that the Tal­iban attempt to con­trol the hearts and minds of the Afghan peo­ple,” he said. “It is my belief that should they go unchal­lenged there and in the sur­round­ing areas, they will feel equal­ly unchal­lenged else­where.

“As goes Kan­da­har, so goes Afghanistan,” he said.

Afghan and coali­tion efforts to counter the Tal­iban in the region have been under­way for sev­er­al months, Mullen said. Shap­ing oper­a­tions in the form of kinet­ic strikes against Tal­iban tar­gets and their facil­i­ties, and hold­ing shuras – meet­ings – with trib­al elders and oth­ers of influ­ence in the area, are equal parts of the cam­paign.

The next step in the cam­paign is to improve secu­ri­ty in the region. “With Afghans in the lead, we will bol­ster a police pres­ence at secu­ri­ty out­posts and check­points around the city,” Mullen said. “We will estab­lish free­dom of move­ment along the ring road and build a bypass south of Kan­da­har. And we will bet­ter con­trol access to the city itself along its main arter­ies.”

This will be tough — as Amer­i­can, coali­tion and Afghan casu­al­ties attest, Mullen said. “But all of it will depend heav­i­ly on the con­tin­ued growth and devel­op­ment of com­pe­tent and well-led Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Forces, as well as tan­gi­ble and achiev­able polit­i­cal out­comes,” the chair­man said.

Pro­tect­ing the peo­ple of Kan­da­har from the depre­da­tions of the Tal­iban is not a mil­i­tary objec­tive. “It is a social, polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic objec­tive for which oth­er agen­cies and oth­er nations are need­ed and through which Afghan lead­er­ship will be vital,” Mullen said.

The chair­man said he is com­fort­able with the progress that has been achieved in Afghanistan, and with the sequence of the oper­a­tions as they move for­ward. “I am also mind­ful of the need to mon­i­tor our progress con­tin­u­al­ly to stay flex­i­ble and to adjust accord­ing­ly,” he said.

Mullen also dis­cussed the prop­er bal­ance of forces and resources in the defense estab­lish­ment between fight­ing today’s wars and prepar­ing for the threats of the future. “Win­ning our cur­rent wars means invest­ment in this hard-won irreg­u­lar war­fare exper­tise, a core com­pe­ten­cy that should be insti­tu­tion­al­ized and sup­port­ed in com­ing years,” he said. “But we still face tra­di­tion­al threats from region­al pow­ers who pos­sess robust reg­u­lar, and in some cas­es nuclear, capa­bil­i­ties and so we must also main­tain con­ven­tion­al advan­tages.”

The Amer­i­can mil­i­tary needs suf­fi­cient strike air­craft and muni­tions capa­ble of assur­ing air supe­ri­or­i­ty. Afloat, it means hav­ing enough ships and sailors to stay engaged glob­al­ly and keep the sea lanes open. On the ground, it means accel­er­at­ing the mod­ern­iza­tion of U.S. com­bat brigades and reg­i­ments.

“On the whole, it means nev­er hav­ing to fight a fair fight,” the chair­man said. “Again, it’s about bal­ance, about deter­ring and win­ning the big and the small wars, the con­ven­tion­al and the uncon­ven­tion­al – two chal­lenges, one mil­i­tary.”

Mullen salut­ed the U.S. military’s per­for­mance over near­ly a decade of war, not­ing many ser­vice­mem­bers have served mul­ti­ple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Our men and women are, with­out ques­tion, and almost inex­plic­a­bly, the most resilient and bat­tle-ready force in our his­to­ry,” he said. “We are turn­ing away poten­tial recruits, so good is our reten­tion and so attrac­tive are our career oppor­tu­ni­ties.”

How­ev­er, the strain on the force has tak­en a toll, Mullen acknowl­edged, not­ing the mil­i­tary has expe­ri­enced “an alarm­ing rise in sui­cides, mar­i­tal prob­lems, pre­scrip­tion drug addic­tions and men­tal health prob­lems with­in our ranks.”

To com­bat these issues the Pen­ta­gon has asked for bud­get increas­es for fam­i­ly sup­port and advo­ca­cy pro­grams to include coun­sel­ing, mil­i­tary spouse employ­ment and care for wound­ed, ill and injured mem­bers, the chair­man said.

“This bud­get builds upon the superb sup­port you and the depart­ment have pro­vid­ed our troops and their fam­i­lies,” Mullen said.

The depart­ment, he said, also wants to dra­mat­i­cal­ly increase the num­ber of men­tal-health pro­fes­sion­als on staff and advance research in trau­mat­ic brain injuries and post-trau­mat­ic stress – the sig­na­ture wounds of the cur­rent wars.

“We know the strain of fre­quent deploy­ments caus­es many prob­lems, but we don’t know yet ful­ly, nor under­stand ful­ly, how or to what extent,” Mullen said.

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

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 →