Allen: Kabul Attack Shows Enemy Desperation

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14, 2011 — Warn­ing of the like­li­hood of more high-pro­file attacks like yesterday’s on the U.S. Embassy in Kab­ul as insur­gents grow increas­ing­ly des­per­ate, the top U.S. and NATO com­man­der in Afghanistan declared the attack a mil­i­tary fail­ure as he praised the Afghan secu­ri­ty force’s response to the raid.

“Afghan and coali­tion forces once again defeat­ed an attempt by the insur­gents to push back the progress of the Afghan peo­ple and their secu­ri­ty forces and the gov­ern­ment and the progress they are mak­ing in Afghanistan,” Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen said today dur­ing a news brief­ing in the Afghan cap­i­tal.

The attack, Allen added, had “no oper­a­tional impact what­so­ev­er.”

The Unit­ed States and its coali­tion part­ners “will con­tin­ue work­ing with our Afghan part­ners toward tran­si­tion­ing secu­ri­ty respon­si­bil­i­ty through­out the coun­try,” the gen­er­al said. “They have demon­strat­ed their deter­mi­na­tion and abil­i­ty to respond to insur­gent attacks and to mit­i­gate the impact of these vicious attacks.”

Allen praised the “courage and abil­i­ty and fight­ing spir­it” of Afghan forces who “respond­ed quick­ly and capa­bly, con­tain­ing the insur­gents and sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly elim­i­nat­ing the threat.”

Sev­en insur­gents were killed dur­ing clear­ing oper­a­tions, in addi­tion to four insur­gent sui­cide bombers.

Allen expressed his con­do­lences for five Afghan nation­al police and 11 Afghan civil­ians, about half of them chil­dren, killed in the attack, and anoth­er 19 Afghan civil­ians who were wound­ed. A small num­ber of coali­tion forces were injured, but none fatal­ly, he report­ed.

Cit­ing the com­plex­i­ty of the attack and the way it was exe­cut­ed, Allen point­ed to the Haqqani net­work as the like­ly source.

“The Haqqa­nis have been attack­ing Kab­ul for a long time, because Kab­ul for so much of this coun­try rep­re­sents, not just the spir­i­tu­al heart­land of this coun­try; it rep­re­sents the future,” he said.

He not­ed that the Haqqani net­work has been behind many of the high-pro­file attacks on Kab­ul, tar­get­ing Afghan gov­ern­ment fig­ures and insti­tu­tions and killing some 200 peo­ple.

Allen said talks will con­tin­ue to pres­sure neigh­bor­ing Pak­istan to crack down hard­er on insur­gents cross­ing the bor­der into Afghanistan. “We seek to have the Pak­istani gov­ern­ment place greater pres­sure on the Haqqani net­work, to keep them on the east side of the bor­der, to keep them in Pak­istan so we can pre­vent these kind of … high-pro­file attacks,” he said.

In the mean­time, Allen warned that more insur­gent attacks are like­ly to fol­low.

“This is not the first such attack by the insur­gents, and we do not expect that it will be the last,” he said. “The insur­gents are on the defen­sive. They are los­ing ter­ri­to­ry. They are los­ing sup­port. They are los­ing the con­fi­dence in their lead­ers who choose to give orders from the com­fort of for­eign lands.”

To com­pen­sate, he said the insur­gents use high-pro­file attacks in an attempt to fright­en the Afghan peo­ple into sub­mis­sion.

“It is not work­ing, and it will not work,” Allen said. “The insur­gents will not win. They will lose. We will pre­vail.”

Ambas­sador Simon Gass, the U.S. senior civil­ian rep­re­sen­ta­tive to Afghanistan, said such attacks back­fire for the insur­gents because they reveal their bru­tal­i­ty and wan­ton dis­re­gard for human life.

“The real effect of these attacks is to remind the Afghan peo­ple why they are so deter­mined against an insur­gency that delib­er­ate­ly kills inno­cent men, women and chil­dren,” Gass said.

Allen said the response to the Kab­ul attack demon­strat­ed the com­pe­ten­cy of Afghan secu­ri­ty forces who worked method­i­cal­ly to clear a 16-sto­ry build­ing oppo­site the embassy in dark­ness and inclement weath­er while tak­ing pre­cau­tions to pre­vent col­lat­er­al dam­age.

What the Afghan peo­ple won’t know, Allen said, is how many attacks Afghan secu­ri­ty forces, work­ing in part­ner­ship with coali­tion forces, have been able to pre­vent as they aggres­sive­ly go after ene­my net­works.

“Afghan nation­al secu­ri­ty forces are achiev­ing a sig­nif­i­cant capa­bil­i­ty to deal with the insur­gency,” he said. “If an Afghan cit­i­zen had the chance to see in action these great high-end units that have been devel­oped over the last sev­er­al years [that] are con­tin­u­ing to become more pro­fes­sion­al by the day, I think they would be proud.”

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