WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2011 — While Taliban killings of the Afghan general population have decreased over the past year, more government officials have been targeted, a senior U.S. commander said yesterday.
Army Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez, commander of International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, discussed insurgent response to Afghanistan’s increasing security during an interview that aired yesterday on NPR’s “All Things Considered.”
“When [insurgents] see more security forces out, they adjust,” he said. “And because they can’t control the people like they want to, or as easily as they had in the past, then they turn to an intimidation and murder campaign, and that’s what they’ve done.”
The general said insurgents have killed more government officials in and around Kandahar this year than in the past. Kandahar’s deputy governor, Abdul Latif Ashna, was killed by a suicide bomber Jan. 29.
“There are some incredibly brave Afghans who keep stepping up into these positions … [as they] start to understand that there’s a better hope for a future,” Rodriguez said.
As ISAF and Afghan forces prepare for the security transition set to begin in July, the general said, commanders will assess insurgents’ continued reliance on assassination and intimidation. Those tactics, he suggested, indicate a Taliban response to a population that strongly resists them.
“It’s all conditions-based, and we’re going to stay with that,” he said. “We’ll give our best military advice based on the conditions on the ground and our ability to … thin our forces while the Afghan forces assume more responsibilities.”
Rodriguez said the coalition partnership with Afghan army and police forces is accomplishing the mission of strengthening Afghanistan so that the Taliban and al-Qaida can’t re-establish a presence there.
“We’re making slow and steady progress, and … all the objectives that had been laid out in front of us are attainable,” he said.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)