LONDON, Nov. 28, 2011 — The surge of American and NATO forces into Afghanistan has resulted in marked progress there, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey said on British TV today.
“We have to say that, militarily, the surge worked,” the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
Dempsey added that he was “quite pleased” with the national assembly, known as a loya jirga, that Afghan President Hamid Karzai conducted last week the in which a delegation of more than 2,000 elders endorsed a long-term security agreement with the United States.
The loya jirga is not the governance model that western countries would choose, but it has brought together many disparate Afghan groups, and such improvements must be knit together, the general said. He made the comments during BBC and ITV interviews and during a lecture at the Colin Cramphorn Memorial here as part of a trip to meet with British leaders.
NATO, its allies and the Afghan government are making progress toward objectives that all parties agreed to at the Lisbon Summit in November 2010, namely that Afghan forces will have responsibility for the country’s security by the end of 2014.
It’s not easy. “I would say that Afghanistan will still be in the balance three years from now,” Dempsey said. “This is a mission, this is a challenge, this is a neighborhood that requires constant vigilance. It requires capability, capacity, communications and it requires partnership.”
There will have to be some partnership agreement between Afghanistan and other countries beyond 2014, he said, and while U.S., NATO and Afghan officials are looking at that, near-term issues still dominate discussions.
“We went through the same thing in Iraq,” Dempsey said. “We were discussing with Iraq the post-’11 theory, and some folks think it turned out well; others think it didn’t. I’m in the camp where I think it turned out well, and I suspect we’ll have those kinds of conversations with NATO and the Afghan government as we go forward.”
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)