Coalition, Afghans Get Inputs Right in Taliban Fight

WASHINGTON, May 10, 2011 — Despite their pro­pa­gan­da, the Tal­iban have not launched a spring offen­sive in east­ern Afghanistan, the com­man­der of Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force’s Region­al Com­mand East said today.
Army Maj. Gen. John F. Camp­bell, who also com­mands the Army’s 101st Air­borne Divi­sion, spoke with Pen­ta­gon reporters via video tele­con­fer­ence from Bagram Air­field, Afghanistan, as he pre­pares to turn over com­mand of the region to Army Maj. Gen. Dan Allyn, com­man­der of the 1st Cav­al­ry Divi­sion, next week.

Camp­bell said the oper­a­tions tem­po remained high over the win­ter as coali­tion and Afghan forces placed tremen­dous pres­sure on the Tal­iban and allied forces. 

“We’ve stayed after it,” he said, not­ing that the amount of ene­my muni­tions and home­made bombs tak­en off the bat­tle­field was dou­ble what it was over the same peri­od last year. “And we real­ly think we’ve changed the dynam­ics of the bat­tle­field by doing that,” he added, “as the insur­gents have tried to come back and do their own spring cam­paign.” The Tal­iban said in late April that they were launch­ing a spring offen­sive and that they would be tak­ing on the coali­tion and their Afghan brothers. 

“We have not real­ly seen an uptick in Region­al Com­mand East on attacks,” Camp­bell said. “For about the 30 days pri­or to 1 May, the num­ber of insur­gent-ini­ti­at­ed attacks was between 25 to 30 per month. And that num­ber after 1 May has con­tin­ued to be the same.” 

The Tal­iban also said they would pro­tect the Afghan peo­ple, but one of their first acts was to put a sui­cide vest on a 12-year-old boy who det­o­nat­ed it in a bazaar, killing sev­en women and chil­dren and wound­ing 34 oth­er inno­cent Afghans, he said. “Again, 90 per­cent of the civil­ian casu­al­ties are caused by the insur­gents in Region­al Com­mand East,” Camp­bell said. 

Mean­while, the gen­er­al said, coali­tion and Afghan forces in the com­mand have their own spring offen­sive. “We have sev­er­al oper­a­tions that are ongo­ing at this point in time,” he said. “We’ve been very aggres­sive out there going after the enemy.” 

Camp­bell praised the capa­bil­i­ties of the Afghan mil­i­tary and police. “Every­thing we’ve done over the past year has been ’shana-ba-shana,’ shoul­der to shoul­der, with … the army, the police and the … Afghan bor­der police,” he said. “We’ve real­ly worked at that hard, and I think we can real­ly see the results over the past year.” 

Afghan forces still need work, Camp­bell acknowl­edged, but he not­ed steady progress over the past year. “We’re hand­ing off a much bet­ter Afghan secu­ri­ty force than we had a year ago,” he said. “And that real­ly is a lot of great work by the coali­tion part­ners, but also by the Afghans them­selves. They’ve real­ly stepped up.” 

Camp­bell said the sac­ri­fices that his sol­diers and allies have made are set­ting the sit­u­a­tion for the 1st Cav­al­ry. He has realigned the forces in the area of oper­a­tions to ensure the com­mand is “get­ting the inputs right,” he said. 

“Across the bat­tle space in Region­al Com­mand East, we’ve been get­ting the inputs right,” Camp­bell con­tin­ued. “That’s mov­ing around Afghan forces where they need­ed to be, where we need­ed them. 

“We’ve added addi­tion­al bat­tal­ions over the course of the year,” he said, “We’ve added addi­tion­al police over the course of the year. We real­ly do think we have a pret­ty good set now, and that we have the right struc­ture, the right Afghan forces, the right coali­tion forces, the right lead­er­ship and the right strategy.” 

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

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