Gates, Karzai Discuss Way Ahead in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan, Sept. 2, 2010 — There are now enough resources in Afghanistan to deliv­er “tan­gi­ble and last­ing results,” Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates said dur­ing a joint news con­fer­ence with Afghan Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai here today.

The two lead­ers had met ear­li­er in the day to dis­cuss issues such as com­bat­ing cor­rup­tion in the Afghan gov­ern­ment, civil­ian casu­al­ties and the U.S. military’s grad­ual tran­si­tion of respon­si­bil­i­ty for secu­ri­ty to Afghan forces begin­ning in July 2011. 

Karzai told reporters his dis­cus­sions with Gates “detailed the progress we have made so far and what remains to be done.” 

Near­ly all of the 30,000 U.S. troops Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma ordered to Afghanistan in Decem­ber 2009 have arrived, Gates said. The U.S. forces are con­duct­ing oper­a­tions along with 7,000 addi­tion­al ser­vice­mem­bers sent from NATO and non-NATO allies. 

The Unit­ed States has tripled the num­ber of civil­ians in Afghanistan and pro­vid­ed many more train­ers for Afghan secu­ri­ty forces. 

But the addi­tion­al resources for the Afghanistan cam­paign are not con­fined to inter­na­tion­al forces. “The size and capa­bil­i­ties of the Afghan secu­ri­ty forces con­tin­ue to grow in num­ber and in qual­i­ty,” Gates said. Afghan forces have grown by more than 60,000 in the past nine months, he said, reach­ing the annu­al recruit­ing goal three months early. 

Afghan troops are work­ing with the Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force, Gates said, with about 85 per­cent of the Afghan kan­daks, or bat­tal­ions, part­ner­ing with ISAF units. The Afghans and ISAF units are “train­ing togeth­er, plan­ning togeth­er and fight­ing togeth­er, with Afghan forces increas­ing­ly tak­ing the lead,” the sec­re­tary said. 

Mean­while, the Tal­iban, the Haqqani net­work and their al-Qai­da allies have fought back. U.S., coali­tion and Afghan forces had expect­ed the fight­ing to inten­si­fy, Gates said, as they pushed back to take – and hold – more and more vil­lages and cities. 

While there have been more allied casu­al­ties, “our ene­mies are pay­ing a very steep price and feel­ing more pres­sure than ever,” the sec­re­tary said. “That will only inten­si­fy as Afghan and coali­tion oper­a­tions expand, bring­ing secu­ri­ty to com­mu­ni­ties and peo­ple the Tal­iban has terrorized.” 

This pres­sure should lead to rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and rein­te­gra­tion in Afghanistan and there already are small groups that are putting down their arms rather than fight Afghan and coali­tion forces, Gates said. 

Mean­while, despite increased mil­i­tary oper­a­tions, the num­bers of civil­ian casu­al­ties caused by inad­ver­tent coali­tion and Afghan actions are drop­ping, Gates said. 

We will con­tin­ue to make every effort to avoid harm­ing inno­cent civil­ians in our oper­a­tions alto­geth­er,” he said. “How­ev­er, at the same time the Tal­iban lead­er­ship has under­tak­en a bru­tal cam­paign against Afghan civil­ians and assas­si­na­tion of Afghan officials.” 

The sec­re­tary announced that the Unit­ed States is rewrit­ing the rules for con­tract­ing and for­eign assis­tance mon­ey to ensure it does not fuel cor­rup­tion. The U.S. embassy and U.S. Forces Afghanistan are work­ing togeth­er to put in place new pro­ce­dures and con­trols to ensure this. “We ful­ly sup­port the Afghan gov­ern­ment in its own efforts to address cor­rup­tion,” Gates said. 

The Afghan pres­i­dent told reporters his gov­ern­ment will fight cor­rup­tion, but that it must be done in accor­dance with Afghan law. 

We should fight cor­rup­tion, but cor­rup­tion must be fought legal­ly and cor­rect­ly, not in man­ner of ban­dit­ry or a vio­la­tion of the rights of the peo­ple,” Karzai said. 

Gates reit­er­at­ed the U.S. military’s role after July 2011 – the date that Oba­ma set for a con­di­tions-based begin­ning of tran­si­tion to the Afghans for secu­ri­ty. The coalition’s mil­i­tary role will change over time, but one con­stant will be the long-term com­mit­ment of the Unit­ed States to the Afghan peo­ple, he said. 

Pres­i­dent Karzai and I dis­cussed the impor­tance of the strength­ened U.S.-Afghan Strate­gic Part­ner­ship Dec­la­ra­tion now being devel­oped by our two gov­ern­ments,” the sec­re­tary said. 

Gates said the U.S. mil­i­tary is not “turn­ing off the lights” in July 2011. 

If the Tal­iban real­ly do believe that Amer­i­ca is head­ing for the exits next sum­mer in large num­bers, they will be deeply dis­ap­point­ed and sur­prised to find us very much in the fight,” he said. 

The Unit­ed States will have forces in Afghanistan after 2011, the sec­re­tary said, not­ing that Amer­i­ca and Afghanistan will con­tin­ue to have a long-term mil­i­tary, polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic partnership. 

We learned our les­son in turn­ing our back on Afghanistan in 1989, and we have no inten­tion of doing so again,” Gates said. 

The Unit­ed States, he said, will con­tin­ue to dis­rupt, dis­man­tle and defeat al-Qai­da and its extrem­ist affil­i­ates in Afghanistan, Pak­istan and oth­er areas they may try to gather. 

Our suc­cess will be crit­i­cal for the future of the Afghan peo­ple, for the sta­bil­i­ty of the region and for the long-term secu­ri­ty inter­ests of the Amer­i­can peo­ple and our allies,” Gates said. 

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

More news and arti­cles can be found on Face­book and Twitter.

Fol­low GlobalDefence.net on Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →