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.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs