News

    NATO, US Troops Continue Fighting Taliban in Afghanistan

    There are roughly 100,000 American and North Atlantic Treaty Organization troops in Afghanistan.

    NATO has been operating in Afghanistan since 2003. The alliance has more than 60,000 troops as part of a United Nations mandated contingent known as the "International Security Assistance Force" - or ISAF.

    Analysts say NATO has three objectives in Afghanistan. The first is to assist the Afghan government in its efforts to rebuild and stabilize the country. The second is to train the Afghan army and police. And the third is to hunt down and eliminate insurgents in southern Afghanistan - home of the Taliban, ousted from power by a U.S.-led coalition in 2001.

    The United States is the largest contributor to ISAF with approximately 30,000 troops. An additional 32,000 soldiers and Marines are part of the U.S.-led "Operation Enduring Freedom."

    Tomas Valasek is a NATO and Afghan expert with the London-based Center for European Reform.

    "The missions of '[Operation] Enduring Freedom' and forces under NATO's operation are really converging, gradually, over time. But the basic division is - if one can be drawn - is that '[Operation] Enduring Freedom' focuses on chasing down Osama bin Laden and the most active leaders of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, whereas the NATO forces are peacekeepers whose job is to help establish control by the Afghan national government," he said.  "Of course the tasks have converged simply because the peacekeeping job the NATO forces are doing in Afghanistan has turned out to be a little bit more difficult than initially thought. And peacekeepers have really turned into combat troops," Valasek added.

    This past July was the deadliest month ever for U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan - 76 coalition troops were killed, 45 of them American.

    Analysts say in the run-up to the August 20 presidential elections, the Taliban has stepped up its attacks. They say the main fighting is still centered in the south, but the Taliban has expanded its range of action to the east and to the relatively peaceful north.

    Sean Kay, with Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio, says over the past few years, the Taliban has changed some of its methods.

    "The Taliban have adopted tactics that came out of Iraq - the suicide bombings that used to never happen in Afghanistan have been happening much more regularly, the improvised explosive devices on the ground - a very serious threat to our men and women taking risks for the country on the ground," he said.

    Michael Williams with the University of London, says the Taliban is using classic hit and run maneuvers.

    "The Taliban certainly feel that they have the advantage at the moment - it's dubious to say whether they do or not. They don't really control a lot of territory. What they do is they harass and harry.  And so the NATO forces have to actually take, clear out territory and hold that territory," said Williams.  "The Taliban just has to go in and out and punch holes and create chaos, which makes it an incredibly more easy task for them and makes it more difficult for the alliance," he said.

    In addition, says Charles Kupchan with the Council on Foreign Relations (in Washington), counter-insurgency warfare has always been difficult, because insurgents often run away from the forces that are coming after them.

    "In the case of Afghanistan, they can disappear across the border into Pakistan. And even though the United States is conducting attacks on Pakistan territory through drones [a pilotless aircraft operated by remote control], the United States does not have permission, if you will, to send its own forces into Pakistan territory," said Kupchan.  "And so in that sense, the Taliban, to some extent, has safe harbor, can come across the border into Afghanistan, do damage and then sneak back into Pakistan," he said.

    Many experts say NATO's credibility is at stake if it does not defeat the Taliban and help bring stability to the country.

    Michael Williams of the University of London, describes what a successful Afghanistan might look like.

    "Success in Afghanistan for the United States and its allies is a country that is broadly stable, with a centralized government that has the loyalty of regional factions of the country that are highly autonomous, that are providing generally for their own security and ensuring that no terrorist organization can find a safe haven in the country," said Williams.

    Williams and others say such an Afghanistan can only come about if the international community provides the necessary economic, financial and reconstruction aid to help the Afghan government. They say NATO alone cannot stabilize the situation in Afghanistan. 

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora