Commander Notes Afghan Forces’ Progress, Insurgent Failures

WASHINGTON, Nov. 22, 2011 — Afghanistan’s nation­al secu­ri­ty forces are gain­ing strength and skill in the east­ern part of the coun­try as insur­gent groups there fight among them­selves and increas­ing­ly botch attempt­ed attacks, the com­man­der of Region­al Com­mand East said today.

Army Maj. Gen. Daniel B. Allyn spoke with reporters here via dig­i­tal video con­fer­ence from his head­quar­ters at Bagram Air­field in Afghanistan, where he and the men and women of the 1st Cav­al­ry Divi­sion assumed author­i­ty in May.

“Our main effort con­tin­ues to be part­ner­ship with and devel­op­ment of the Afghan secu­ri­ty forces to achieve secu­ri­ty pri­ma­cy for the approx­i­mate­ly 7.5 mil­lion Afghans in the 14 provinces and 160 dis­tricts” of Region­al Com­mand East, Allyn said.

While work­ing with the Afghan army, police and bor­der police, Allyn, who com­mands a com­bined team of eight U.S., French and Pol­ish task forces, said they have seen “rifts and fric­tion” among mul­ti­ple insur­gent groups across the region.

“That has increased as the sum­mer cam­paign has con­tin­ued into the fall,” the gen­er­al added, “and we can see increas­ing­ly des­per­ate actions as they attack civil­ians, mur­der trib­al elders and resort to increased intim­i­da­tion to try to get sup­port for their con­tin­ued oper­a­tions here in Afghanistan.”

Allyn said his team con­tin­ues to see indi­ca­tions that Afghan secu­ri­ty forces and coali­tion forces have dis­rupt­ed secu­ri­ty threats.

“Dur­ing last month’s Oper­a­tion Shamsheer, Afghan secu­ri­ty forces and coali­tion forces cap­tured or killed a dozen Haqqani lead­ers and cap­tured dozens of fight­ers,” he said.

The oper­a­tion involved near­ly 2,000 sol­diers, 60 per­cent of them Afghans, and pos­tured Allyn’s troops “to keep the pres­sure on the ene­mies of the peo­ple of Afghanistan this win­ter,” the gen­er­al said.

This fall, he added, insur­gent attacks “have failed mis­er­ably across the board.”

Exam­ples in the last two months include sui­cide bombers who failed in an Oct. 16 attempt to attack the Pak­tia gov­er­nance cen­ter in the Gardez dis­trict. One attack­er died when he det­o­nat­ed his device, and Afghan police stopped the oth­er three attack­ers.

On Nov. 10, insur­gents tried to attack the Chamkani dis­trict cen­ter in Pak­tia, but Afghan police and secu­ri­ty forces killed eight of them.

Coali­tion forces also killed mul­ti­ple insur­gents dur­ing two failed com­plex attacks on Com­bat Out­post Mar­ga in Pak­ti­ka province in Octo­ber and Novem­ber.

Most recent­ly, despite pub­lic sen­ti­ments of intent to use insur­gents to attack the tra­di­tion­al loya jir­ga — a grand assem­bly of trib­al elders — “the Afghan nation­al secu­ri­ty forces pro­vid­ed a secure envi­ron­ment for [that] his­toric gath­er­ing this past week,” the gen­er­al said.

Over the past 90 days, he added, insur­gent vio­lence has caused 85 per­cent to 90 per­cent of Afghan civil­ian casu­al­ties, despite a direc­tive by insur­gent leader Mul­lah Omar to stop tar­get­ing civil­ians.

“Because of the enemy’s con­tin­ued vio­lence against the Afghan peo­ple, we see increased coop­er­a­tion between the Afghan peo­ple, the local gov­ern­ments and the secu­ri­ty forces who serve them,” Allyn said.

Dur­ing the first full fight­ing sea­son with all surge forces on the ground, the gen­er­al said, “we can clear­ly see the impact that it had on deny­ing the insur­gents any oppor­tu­ni­ty to regain lost ground … in the south, the south­west and also in the areas that we wrest­ed from their con­trol dur­ing the sum­mer cam­paign.”

Allyn said the quick­est way to accel­er­ate the devel­op­ment of Afghan secu­ri­ty forces is by putting the world’s best army on the mis­sion.

“That’s what we’ve been doing with our embed­ded part­ner­ship with the tolis and kan­daks, [which are] the com­pa­nies and bat­tal­ions of the Afghan secu­ri­ty forces,” he said.

Such part­ner­ships have cre­at­ed a marked improve­ment in Afghan troop skills, and con­fi­dence and com­pe­tence in their lead­ers, Allyn said, adding that secu­ri­ty force assis­tance teams are also part of the devel­op­ment effort.

With 68,000 Afghan secu­ri­ty forces and just over 29,000 coali­tion forces, he added, about half of the secu­ri­ty forces have an embed­ded part­ner­ship arrange­ment.

Region­al Com­mand East shares a 450-mile bor­der with Pak­istan, and Allyn said cross-bor­der fire has tapered some­what in the past sev­er­al weeks.

“We’ve had some very good cas­es in the last three weeks of the [Pak­istan mil­i­tary] coor­di­nat­ing with us to respond against those cross-bor­der fires and that coor­di­na­tion occurs with every event that hap­pens,” the gen­er­al said.

The sit­u­a­tion along the Afghanistan-Pak­istan bor­der has also been helped by mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary coop­er­a­tion, the gen­er­al said, includ­ing com­ple­men­tary efforts to maneu­ver forces to deny insur­gent infil­tra­tion.

“Our coun­ter­parts on the oth­er side of the bor­der have also adjust­ed posi­tions at our request,” he said. “This is a very pos­i­tive step for­ward, and real­ly was a direct result of the region­al bor­der coor­di­na­tion meet­ing that the Afghans held with the 11th Corps of the Pak­istan mil­i­tary in Kab­ul a lit­tle over a month ago.”

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions exer­cis­es with the Pak­istan and Afghanistan bor­der forces are anoth­er pos­i­tive sign, the gen­er­al told reporters.

“The goal here is that Pak­istan mil­i­tary and Afghan mil­i­tary secure that bor­der in a bilat­er­al way,” Allyn said, “and we are increas­ing­ly allow­ing them to do the major­i­ty of that coor­di­na­tion.”

On the ground in his com­mand, the gen­er­al said, morale is high and troops are con­fi­dent and excit­ed about the capac­i­ty that’s devel­op­ing in their Afghan secu­ri­ty force part­ners.

“We’ve made great progress with our Afghan secu­ri­ty force part­ners over the last sev­er­al months in some very, very hard fight­ing, and we have hard fight­ing yet ahead. But increas­ing­ly, Afghan secu­ri­ty forces are lead­ing that effort,” Allyn said.

“And I know that you’ll keep us in your prayers over this Thanks­giv­ing hol­i­day peri­od, and par­tic­u­lar­ly our fam­i­lies,” he added, “as they con­tin­ue to serve self­less­ly at home and sup­port us while we serve here.”

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