Insurgents Face Unrelenting Pressure in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27, 2011 — Insur­gents fight­ing against the Afghan gov­ern­ment and peo­ple can end their vio­lent ways and rejoin their com­mu­ni­ties or face unre­lent­ing pres­sure, a senior Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force com­man­der said today.

“With our Afghan part­ners, we will con­tin­ue to cre­ate an inhos­pitable envi­ron­ment for the insur­gents to return to in the spring,” Army Lt. Gen. Cur­tis Scaparrot­ti, com­man­der of ISAF Joint Com­mand, said today dur­ing a tele­con­fer­ence with Pen­ta­gon reporters.

Scaparrot­ti laid out his plans for the upcom­ing sea­son­al change. Insur­gent activ­i­ty his­tor­i­cal­ly slows down dur­ing the harsh Afghan win­ter.

“Our objec­tives this fall and win­ter will be [to] main­tain pres­sure on the ene­my,” he said. “[We’ll] expand on our secu­ri­ty gains; con­tin­ue to hold the south, both Kan­da­har and the cen­tral Hel­mand Riv­er val­ley, [and] main­tain a strong offen­sive in the east.”

“[We will] enable the Afghan secu­ri­ty forces to take the lead dur­ing the spring fight­ing sea­son. And final­ly, we will con­tin­ue to press rein­te­gra­tion at all lev­els across Afghanistan,” Scaparrot­ti said.

The gen­er­al cit­ed sig­nif­i­cant advances in Afghanistan over the past decade, specif­i­cal­ly since the troop surge of 2009 and 2010.

“Since 2002, the Afghan [gross domes­tic prod­uct] has grown by 12 per­cent a year on aver­age,” Scaparrot­ti not­ed. “More than five times as many chil­dren are in school. And while there is still a need to improve health care, access has great­ly increased. Today, near­ly 85 per­cent of Afghans have basic health care with­in one hour of where they live.”

Scaparrot­ti laud­ed the Afghan government’s achieve­ments since 2009.

“Now there are over 300,000 Afghan nation­al secu­ri­ty forces through­out the coun­try,” he said. “On a dai­ly basis, they are con­duct­ing oper­a­tions across Afghanistan. A major­i­ty of all coali­tion oper­a­tions are part­nered with Afghan secu­ri­ty forces, and increas­ing­ly, the Afghans are in the lead.”

ISAF and its Afghan part­ners have sur­passed their own pro­jec­tions this past win­ter, Scaparrot­ti said, hav­ing sig­nif­i­cant­ly degrad­ed the insur­gents’ capa­bil­i­ties by tar­get­ing their com­mand and con­trol, sup­port bases and infil­tra­tion routes.

“As a result,” he added, “we cre­at­ed the right con­di­tions for a suc­cess­ful sum­mer fight­ing sea­son and sup­port­ed the process of tran­si­tion.”

Scaparrot­ti told reporters he rec­og­nizes that tran­si­tion in Afghanistan is not just about mil­i­tary oper­a­tions.

“It is [also] about cre­at­ing the right oppor­tu­ni­ties and con­di­tions for the Afghan gov­ern­ment and the peo­ple of Afghanistan to be suc­cess­ful and have a bet­ter way of life,” he said. Elec­tions and the hir­ing of gov­ern­ment offi­cials are evi­dence of the growth of the gov­ern­ment and devel­op­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties in Afghanistan, he added.

“Today, many more Afghans are vot­ing in local elec­tions and par­tic­i­pat­ing in their local gov­ern­ments,” he said. “Over 50 per­cent of all deputy provin­cial gov­er­nors in the [Region­al Com­mand] South and South­west [areas] have been employed through mer­it-based hir­ing.”

Ear­li­er this month, 57 new judges were sworn in by the Afghan Supreme Court, Scaparrot­ti said, not­ing these judges will be work­ing in dis­tricts con­sid­ered by the Afghan gov­ern­ment as hav­ing sig­nif­i­cant poten­tial to expand the reach of for­mal gov­er­nance in the pop­u­la­tion.

Scaparrot­ti also described “great progress” in edu­ca­tion.

“Today, there are more than 13,000 schools, 170,000 teach­ers and 8 mil­lion stu­dents, includ­ing rough­ly 3.2 mil­lion girls,” he said. In 2001, the gen­er­al said, it was esti­mat­ed that Afghanistan had few­er than 1,000 schools and 1 mil­lion stu­dents nation­wide, and few of those stu­dents were girlse.

Although much progress has been made, Afghans and the coali­tion will face many chal­lenges ahead and be forced to make some tough deci­sions, Scaparrot­ti said.

“At all times, we’ll focus on our strong part­ner­ship,” he said, “which is based on frank com­mu­ni­ca­tion, respect and integri­ty.”

Scaparrot­ti said the coali­tion is uni­fied and com­mit­ted to mis­sion suc­cess. “Our strat­e­gy is now focused, the coali­tion is strong, our Afghan part­ners are ful­ly engaged, and we have the momen­tum, resources and resolve to suc­ceed,” he said.

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