Stavridis: Afghanistan Strategy Remains on Track

WASHINGTON, March 20, 2012 — Despite recent inci­dents that he acknowl­edged tem­porar­i­ly have set back progress in Afghanistan, NATO’s top mil­i­tary offi­cer said he’s con­fi­dent the strat­e­gy there is suc­ceed­ing and will con­tin­ue to bear fruit.

“Every time we have an inci­dent like we did sev­er­al weeks ago, it sets us back,” Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis con­ced­ed dur­ing an inter­view with the Pen­ta­gon Chan­nel and Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice. “But despite a very chal­leng­ing cou­ple of weeks that we have had in Afghanistan, I am quite con­fi­dent that our fun­da­men­tal strat­e­gy remains sound.”

Stavridis cit­ed broad efforts to pre­vent civil­ian casu­al­ties while coun­ter­ing the insur­gency and help­ing to strength­en Afghan secu­ri­ty forces as they move into the secu­ri­ty lead. “We will con­tin­ue to focus on pro­tect­ing the peo­ple of Afghanistan,” he said, using “every means at our dis­pos­al to reduce casu­al­ties to an absolute min­i­mum.”

The tran­si­tion to an Afghan secu­ri­ty lead, to be com­plet­ed across Afghanistan by the end of 2014, remains solid­ly on track, he report­ed.

“We have already turned over 50 per­cent of the coun­try to an Afghan secu­ri­ty lead. This sum­mer and fall, we will move that up to about 75 per­cent,” the admi­ral said. “And as we get into 2013, I think we will be on a good glide path to com­plete this tran­si­tion to an Afghan secu­ri­ty lead by 2014.”

As this tran­si­tion takes place, Stavridis said he is struck by the vast improve­ments he has wit­nessed with­in the Afghan secu­ri­ty forces. “That has been an extra­or­di­nary sto­ry, in my view,” he said, recall­ing strides made par­tic­u­lar­ly since ear­ly 2010 as coali­tion and Afghan forces began mov­ing into Mar­jah.

“As we built that oper­a­tion, we had sev­en coali­tion sol­diers for every one Afghan sol­dier,” he said. “Today in that region, we have almost two Afghans for every coali­tion sol­dier. We see the Afghans increas­ing tak­ing the lead.”

Afghanistan’s army and nation­al police have passed the 320,000-member mark, he not­ed. “Their num­bers are grow­ing,” he said. “Their capa­bil­i­ties are grow­ing.”

Equal­ly encour­ag­ing, he said, are high approval rat­ings the Afghan peo­ple are giv­ing their secu­ri­ty forces. One well-respect­ed poll shows almost 90-per­cent approval for the Afghan Nation­al Army, mak­ing it the most respect­ed insti­tu­tion in Afghanistan, Stavridis said. Approval rat­ings for police are approach­ing 80 per­cent.

“They are far from per­fect,” he said. “They need help, sup­port, men­tor­ing [and] fund­ing, but as a coher­ent nation­al force, they have improved dra­mat­i­cal­ly.”

Stavridis cred­it­ed the steady pos­i­tive inter­ac­tions between U.S. and Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force troops and their Afghan coun­ter­parts with build­ing the trust that has allowed this progress to take root.

“Every day in Afghanistan, we see 140,000 coali­tion sol­diers oper­at­ing along­side 320,000 Afghan nation­al secu­ri­ty forces,” he said. “Every day there are lit­er­al­ly tens of thou­sands of moments where real trust is built, where oper­a­tions are con­duct­ed togeth­er.”

This foun­da­tion of trust is strong enough to over­come tem­po­rary set­backs, he said.

“So we have got to keep a per­spec­tive on the sev­er­al very trag­ic inci­dents that have occurred and do set us back,” he said. “But I think they are bal­anced by this large, huge num­ber of inter­ac­tions that are in fact pos­i­tive and do build trust and real­ly are ‘Shohna ba Shohna,’ as we say in Dari — ’shoul­der to shoul­der.’ ”

Stavridis said this gives him con­fi­dence that progress will con­tin­ue and that the Afghanistan strat­e­gy will suc­ceed.

“We are not going to kill our way to suc­cess. We are not even going to fight our way to suc­cess,” he said. “We are going to train and tran­si­tion our way to suc­cess in Afghanistan. And it is going to be dif­fi­cult and chal­leng­ing, but as I look back on three years in com­mand, that is where I have seen the most progress.”

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

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 →