Afghanistan/Irak

Gates: Afghan Strat­e­gy Bears Fruit, Iraq on Track

By Don­na Miles
Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9, 2010 — Not­ing signs that the new strat­e­gy in Afghanistan “is begin­ning to bear fruit,” Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates also said dur­ing an inter­view aired last night that the effort to build up Iraq’s secu­ri­ty forces and move for­ward with the U.S. draw­down plan there remains on track.

Afghan Strategy Bears Fruit, Iraq on Track
Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates is inter­viewed by Gre­ta Van Sus­teren, host of the Fox News pro­gram “On the Record with Gre­ta Van Sus­teren,” in Rome, Feb. 7, 2010.
DoD pho­to by Cherie Cullen

Gates spoke with Fox News Channel’s Gre­ta Van Sus­teren while vis­it­ing Rome, also address­ing issues rang­ing from the Pak­istani military’s oper­a­tions in South Waziris­tan to Iran’s ura­ni­um enrich­ment activ­i­ties.

The sec­re­tary not­ed signs of a pos­si­ble turn­around in Afghanistan, as expressed last week at the NATO Min­is­te­r­i­al in Istan­bul by Army Gen. Stan­ley McChrys­tal, the top U.S. and NATO com­man­der on the ground. “He thought the sit­u­a­tion was still seri­ous, but no longer dete­ri­o­rat­ing,” Gates said.

“I think we are begin­ning to see the impact of the Marines going into Hel­mand province. We are begin­ning to see the impact of increased forces in oth­er places,” Gates said. “I think part of what many of us are feel­ing is that there’s an intan­gi­ble increase in con­fi­dence and hope, both on the part of the Afghans, but also on the part of the nations that are with us in there, try­ing to help.

“There are some small signs that the strat­e­gy that Gen­er­al McChrys­tal is fol­low­ing is begin­ning to bear fruit,” he added.

But Gates empha­sized that the fight is far from over. “It is still going to be a hard fight. There’s some very hard days ahead,” he said.

The new strat­e­gy mea­sures suc­cess, not in how many Tal­iban are killed, but by how many Afghans are pro­tect­ed, the sec­re­tary not­ed. As the Taliban’s momen­tum begins to reverse, Gates said he expects more low­er-lev­el mil­i­tants to put down their weapons and rejoin Afghan soci­ety through Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai’s rein­te­gra­tion effort.

Gates said he’s see­ing ini­tial indi­ca­tions that rein­te­gra­tion is work­ing.

“We have to do two things: cre­ate con­di­tions in which [for­mer Tal­iban] can have a job and pro­vide them secu­ri­ty to pro­tect them and their fam­i­lies [from Tal­iban reprisals],” Gates said. “But the key is, it seems to me, is that rec­on­cil­i­a­tion has to be on the terms of the Afghan gov­ern­ment and con­sis­tent with the Afghan con­sti­tu­tion.”

Turn­ing to Iraq, Gates said Army Gen. Ray­mond Odier­no, the top U.S. com­man­der there, is “pret­ty com­fort­able” with the arrange­ments made to ensure a respon­si­ble draw­down of U.S. forces.

“The Iraqi secu­ri­ty forces have con­tin­ued to improve. We will con­tin­ue that train­ing role with them through 2011. We’ll con­tin­ue to do coun­tert­er­ror­ism oper­a­tions with them,” Gates said. “But we are pret­ty much on sched­ule” with the draw­down plan.

Gates point­ed to the recent, high-vis­i­bil­i­ty attacks as al-Qaida’s des­per­a­tion to inflict eth­nic divi­sion and make a come­back. “All the infor­ma­tion we have points to al-Qai­da in this,” he said. “They are some­what resur­gent. That’s why we will con­tin­ue to work with the Iraqi secu­ri­ty forces in try­ing to take these guys out.”

Mean­while, he said he’s reas­sured that the polit­i­cal process in Iraq, which, although not pro­gress­ing as smooth­ly as hoped, is pro­ceed­ing demo­c­ra­t­i­cal­ly. “When it comes to pol­i­tics in Bagh­dad, real­i­ty is, these guys are try­ing to solve their prob­lems polit­i­cal­ly rather than with guns,” he said.

Regard­ing Pak­istan, Gates acknowl­edged the strong offen­sive the Pak­istani mil­i­tary is con­duct­ing in South Waziris­tan and else­where around the coun­try – one he said is exceed­ing all expec­ta­tions.

“If you had told me 18 months or two years ago that the Pak­istani army would be oper­at­ing in South Waziris­tan, that they would have gone in the Bajaur Agency [with­in the Fed­er­al­ly Admin­is­tered Trib­al Areas], that they had gone into Swat [Val­ley], I would have thought that would have been a mir­a­cle,” he said.

“We always want them to do more,” Gates said. “They push back. They are going to do it their own way. We will help as much as pos­si­ble.”

He reit­er­at­ed the mes­sage he deliv­ered while vis­it­ing Islam­abad last month. “We are in this car togeth­er, but we rec­og­nize on your side of the bor­der [with Afghanistan], you are in the driver’s seat and you’ve got your foot on the accel­er­a­tor,” he said.

“There has been improve­ment in coor­di­na­tion,” he con­tin­ued. “And frankly, I think the Pak­ista­nis have done a ter­rif­ic job.”

Gates expressed con­cern about Iran­ian Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ahmadinejad’s defi­ance of the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty in mov­ing for­ward with nuclear enrich­ment. The Unit­ed States and the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty have giv­en Iran ample oppor­tu­ni­ty to pro­vide reas­sur­ances of its inten­tions, and that it will stop vio­lat­ing the Nuclear Non-Pro­lif­er­a­tion Treaty and U.N. res­o­lu­tions, he said.

“The response has been con­sis­tent­ly dis­ap­point­ing,” he said, “So now we are in a posi­tion to turn to the pres­sure track and get broad inter­na­tion­al sup­port for seri­ous sanc­tions in terms of try­ing to get the Iran­ian gov­ern­ment to change its approach.”

More of Van Sustern’s inter­view with Gates is sched­uled to run tonight, with the focus expect­ed to be on a pos­si­ble over­turn of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” pol­i­cy that bans gays from serv­ing in the mil­i­tary.

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 →