Dempsey Makes Case for Progress in Afghanistan

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)