Commander Notes Progress in Southern Afghanistan

WASHINGTON, Aug. 4, 2011 — Coali­tion forces in south­ern Afghanistan have made progress while curb­ing ene­my momen­tum, the com­man­der of the NATO-led Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force’s Region­al Com­mand South said today.

It’s my assess­ment that a lot has changed dur­ing our 10 months out there on the ground and that we have made progress,” Army Maj. Gen. James L. Ter­ry told Pen­ta­gon reporters in a video tele­con­fer­ence.

Most notable is that insur­gent momen­tum has been put in check and we are increas­ing secu­ri­ty in key dis­tricts,” he said, adding that the com­mand has expand­ed its efforts to reduce insur­gent capa­bil­i­ty and build­ing Afghanistan’s secu­ri­ty forces toward lead­ing secu­ri­ty efforts in the region.

Ter­ry said Afghan lead­er­ship through­out Kan­da­har, Uruz­gan, Zab­ul and Day Kun­di provinces are step­ping up to improve con­di­tions in their areas. “Our civil­ian coun­ter­parts, both in the Afghan gov­ern­ment and the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty, work with us in extend­ing gov­er­nance and devel­op­ment as secu­ri­ty expands,” he added.

As Afghan and coali­tion forces car­ry out secu­ri­ty oper­a­tions, their efforts con­tin­ue to pay div­i­dends, the gen­er­al told reporters.

Afghan secu­ri­ty forces and ISAF have worked togeth­er to remove near­ly 1,400 caches of weapons, 110 tons of home­made explo­sives, and removed over 300 high-val­ue indi­vid­u­als since the begin­ning of Novem­ber,” he said. “The net result is not only remov­ing lethal mate­r­i­al and lead­er­ship from the bat­tle­field, but also great­ly impact­ing the insur­gents’ abil­i­ty to acquire replace­ment mate­r­i­al.”

Oth­er suc­cess­es, Ter­ry said, are tak­ing place as Afghans increas­ing­ly take respon­si­bil­i­ty for secu­ri­ty in their vil­lages.

There are cur­rent­ly 30 vil­lage sta­bil­i­ty oper­a­tions, Afghan local police sites, in Region­al Com­mand South, with­in 17 val­i­dat­ed dis­tricts,” he said. “That’s about 2,200 Afghan local police­men sup­port­ing com­mu­ni­ties and deny­ing Tal­iban access back into their vil­lages.”

But Ter­ry cau­tioned that while much has changed in the region, the insur­gents will not sim­ply quit.

As I’ve said many times, insur­gents will not give up eas­i­ly,” he said. “And as we pre­dict­ed, they are shift­ing tac­tics towards intim­i­da­tion of the pop­u­la­tion and gov­ern­ment offi­cials.

They’re doing this through phys­i­cal harm, mur­der, in some cas­es, and com­plex attacks,” he con­tin­ued. “These com­plex attacks are being coun­tered by our Afghan nation­al secu­ri­ty force part­ners. … The result has been tac­ti­cal and moral defeat for the insur­gents.”

Ter­ry not­ed the resolve of his Afghan part­ners despite the insurgency’s efforts, prais­ing the resilience of secu­ri­ty and gov­er­nance insti­tu­tions in the face of adver­si­ty.

Undoubt­ed­ly, the look and feel of the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty pres­ence in Region­al Com­mand South will change as Afghans move into the lead,” he said. “It has to.”

Ter­ry said in his remain­ing months in the region, Afghan and coali­tion forces would con­tin­ue their part­ner­ship, main­tain the devel­op­ment of inclu­sive local gov­ern­ments, increase Afghan capac­i­ty and work with the region’s civil­ian lead­er­ship.

Coali­tion forces will con­tin­ue to facil­i­tate the tran­si­tion of Afghans to the fore­front of secu­ri­ty efforts.

We will main­tain our efforts with train­ing, part­ner­ing and men­tor­ing the Afghan secu­ri­ty forces, includ­ing the Afghan local police,” Ter­ry said. “[We will] move them increas­ing­ly toward lead­ing and direct­ing roles, secur­ing their peo­ple and relent­less­ly pur­su­ing crim­i­nals and armed oppo­si­tion.”

Ter­ry, who was recent­ly nom­i­nat­ed by Defense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panet­ta for appoint­ment to lieu­tenant gen­er­al and assign­ment as com­man­der of 5th Corps, U.S. Army Europe and 7th Army, expressed his grat­i­tude to the diverse group of ser­vice mem­bers serv­ing under his com­mand.

I’d like to per­son­al­ly thank all the sol­diers, sailors, air­men and Marines and civil­ians who have served and sac­ri­ficed in Region­al Com­mand South over the last year,” he said. “Regard­less of the nation­al­i­ty, their efforts have been tru­ly tremen­dous.”

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