ISAF Needs to Maintain Momentum in Afghanistan, General Says

WASHINGTON, July 13, 2011 — NATO’s Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force has a “real­is­tic chance” to meet its goals in Afghanistan if mem­ber nations main­tain cur­rent efforts there, an ISAF leader said today.

“We have achieved quite some­thing; how­ev­er, chal­lenges are still out there,” Maj. Gen. Richard Ross­manith of the Ger­man army, ISAF’s deputy chief of staff for sta­bil­i­ty, said dur­ing a Pen­ta­gon news brief­ing from the Afghan cap­i­tal of Kab­ul.

“We need to con­tin­ue our com­mon effort [in Afghanistan],” he said.

“We need to stay togeth­er,” Ross­manith con­tin­ued. “We need to main­tain the momen­tum. There is a real­is­tic chance to get the job done in the right way, and we have a chance to actu­al­ly achieve our objec­tives in this mis­sion.”

Ross­manith over­sees more than a hun­dred mil­i­tary and civil­ian mem­bers rep­re­sent­ing about 50 ISAF mem­ber nations, work­ing to devel­op gov­er­nance and a sus­tain­able econ­o­my in Afghanistan. Those mem­ber nations “have a vest­ed inter­est in near­ly all areas” of Afghanistan’s gov­ern­ment and eco­nom­ic prospects, he said.

The sta­bil­i­ty group over­sees efforts to improve rule of law, land man­age­ment, rev­enue gen­er­a­tion, civil­ian avi­a­tion, roads, bridges, schools, train­ing civ­il ser­vants, and oth­er ini­tia­tives, Ross­manith said.

“We still have a huge amount of chal­lenges,” he said, “but we are on a good way toward irre­versible achieve­ments.”

Those chal­lenges, Ross­manith said, include bor­der secu­ri­ty with Pak­istan and insur­gent safe havens there, and the insur­gency with­in Afghanistan. “We must be real­is­tic,” he said, “these bor­ders, with respect to the ter­rain, may nev­er be ful­ly con­trol­lable. We will need to do a lot in the coun­try” to bol­ster Afghanistan’s bor­der secu­ri­ty.

Rev­enue gen­er­a­tion also remains an issue, the gen­er­al said. Still, there has been mea­sur­able progress in build­ing Afghanistan’s infra­struc­ture and gov­er­nance, he said. Among oth­er things, the nation­al gov­ern­ment is con­sid­er­ing estab­lish­ing a roads author­i­ty to sus­tain that progress.

Gov­ern­ment sta­bil­i­ty in Afghanistan needs improve­ment, Ross­manith said. “At the end of the day, the sit­u­a­tion there still is soft,” he acknowl­edged.

What will strength­en it, he said, is to con­tin­ue with the cur­rent strat­e­gy to build up Afghan secu­ri­ty forces enough in the next 12 to 15 months so that the Afghans can take more respon­si­bil­i­ty for their secu­ri­ty, gov­er­nance and eco­nom­ic future.

For­eign invest­ment in Afghanistan has helped, Ross­manith said.

“Indeed, a huge amount of mon­ey has been spent in Afghanistan, and we see the pos­i­tive effects of that, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the past one to two years,” he said. “This sup­ports our com­pre­hen­sive [coun­terin­sur­gency] efforts and we see the pos­i­tive effects of all that was spent by the Unit­ed States and all the oth­er nations.”

The gen­er­al declined to com­ment on the death of Ahmed Wali Karzai, the half-broth­er of Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai and a major pow­er bro­ker in south­ern Afghanistan, who was assas­si­nat­ed yes­ter­day, say­ing only that it was too ear­ly to draw con­clu­sions and that ISAF will sup­port the gov­ern­ment inves­ti­ga­tion.

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