ISAF, Afghan Forces Mobilized for Election Day Security



The Australian military officer responsible for the international effort to help provide security for Thursday's Afghan presidential election says he is concerned about the potential for insurgent attacks on polling stations, but he believes Afghan and international security forces have prepared well to keep violence to a minimum.  The officer spoke via satellite from Kabul to reporters at the Pentagon.

Brigadier General Damian Cantwell says Afghan, NATO and other international forces have been rehearsing their election security plan, and acting out various potential scenarios.  

"We're never quite sure what the enemy will do, but we do have a series of solid plans in place," said General Cantwell.

General Cantwell says Afghan police will be in and around the 6,500 polling stations, Afghan soldiers will man an outer perimeter and ISAF, the International Security Assistance Force, will be nearby to help if needed.  But officials acknowledge attacks by the Taliban and affiliated groups have increased this week to nearly 50 per day nationwide, on average.  General Cantwell acknowledges that is a cause for concern.

"The threat itself might be manifested in its most dangerous form in those sorts of tactics we've seen in suicide bombing in populated areas," he said. "And therefore we're doing everything we can to mitigate against those risks."

The general says the Afghan government and the insurgents are battling for the minds of the Afghan people, with the government trying to instill confidence and convince people to vote, and the insurgents trying to instill fear and keep the people at home on Election Day.

"Obviously those sorts of incidents that occurred today, tragically, and also last Saturday, will probably cause some citizens to have some concerns about moving forward and taking part in the election on the day," said Cantwell. "But this is a very hardy and resilient people.  And they're quite used to hearing and seeing acts of violence.  And they're quite used to seeing checkpoints and roadblocks in place.  It's all understood to be part of the effort by the Afghan security partners to develop a sense of community confidence."

The general predicts that 85 to 90 per cent of Afghan voters should be able to go to the polls, with only those in Taliban-controlled areas missing out.  He says election security is the top priority for international and Afghan forces, and they have decided not to engage in any offensive operations on Thursday in order to make all their forces available.

"The ministers and the senior officers in charge of the ANA [Afghan National Army] and ANP [Afghan National Police] really haven't left much in reserve, so to speak, and they are fully committed to the task that's set before them," he said.

General Cantwell says while Afghan forces have the lead for election security on the ground, ISAF will provide the ability to observe key areas from the air, and to respond quickly to any emergency.  In all, officials say, nearly 300,000 security forces will be involved in the election operation.  

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs