Insurgents Target More Afghan Government Officials

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)

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