News / Asia

Britain Key Part of Afghan Strategy

Jennifer Glasse

Britain's new foreign secretary, William Hague, is in Washington meeting with his American counterpart. One of the main topics they'll discuss is Afghanistan, where Britain has deployed 10,000 troops.

Some military analysts say U.S. and British forces should move quickly on Afghanistan, particularly in strategic areas such as the traditional Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, in southern Afghanistan where NATO forces are planning a major offensive.

US and British forces have been engaged in a number of military offenses in Southern Afghanistan in recent months.  That's part of a new strategy, according to Malcolm Chalmers, a military analyst at London's Royal United Services Institute.

"Basically what they are engaged in right now is breaking the momentum of the Taliban because there's a widespread agreement that over the last couple of years, the Taliban's influence has been spreading. And they've got NATO on the back foot," said Chalmers.

That is in part why U.S. President Barack Obama has sent an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan under the strategy put together - in part - by the top U.S. commander General Stanley McChrystal.

The former head of the British Army, General Richard Dannat told the BBC that the plan is a good one.

"This whole process of clearing areas, holding them securely with enough boots on the ground and then building a better life for the people, we can get it right," said the general. "It's got to be rolled out across the South of Afghanistan between the British army, the American Army and the U.S. Marine Corps."

General Dannatt adds that part of that roll out includes the impending offensive in Kandahar for obvious reasons.  

"Kandahar is effectively the power base for the Taliban and the Taliban if they want to control the country, first of all they have to control Kandahar, and then they've opened up the access to Kabul."  Confronting the Taliban is critical, he said.

"The fact of the matter is that the Taliban is effectively a front for al- Qaida, al-Qaida is the expression of the militant Islamist agenda which if we don't oppose it and face it off  in Southern Afghanistan or Afghanistan or in South Asia, then frankly that influence will grow."

At the heart of the strategy in Afghanistan is winning over the Afghan population.  Andy Bearpark heads the British Association of Private Security Companies.  Many of them work in Afghanistan. Bearpark believes carrying out a military operation without alienating the people is challenging.

"We've seen the awful effects of what happens when you kill innocent civilians and you can turn entire groups of people against you that way so you really strengthen and broaden the insurgency far and away from the original insurgency."

But Bearpark also said security is crucial.

"The reality is that until you have security, it's really impossible to achieve very much." And in some ways, he said, insurgents have an advantage. "You can build as many power stations as you want, it takes quite a long time to build one, it doesn't take that many seconds to blow one up."

RUSI's Chalmers says something that has been tried and perhaps should be considered again, is negotiating with the more moderate Taliban.

"One of the things which we've not done enough on is understand the complexities of Afghan politics and think about a  political settlement in Afghanistan that brings on board those elements of Afghan society that are not sufficiently represented."

While public opinion here in Britain remains skeptical about the prospects for success in Afghanistan, Chalmers does not think the new British government which took power this week will make big changes.

"I don't think the UK is going to pull out of Afghanistan, as long as the U.S. is there in substantial numbers, but there is a lot of political pressure to reduce the burden," said Chalmers.

Next year, he said, is more uncertain.

"Everybody's asking where the U.S. will go after the middle of next year which is when President Obama said he is going to start drawing down forces but nobody knows what that means."

Commanders in Afghanistan say by July, 2011, the date given for the drawdown, they should have a good idea how much help the newly trained Afghan army and police forces will need to secure the country and whether Western forces can begin to leave Afghanistan in substantial numbers.

You May Like

Unpaid Kurdish Fighters Sign of Economic Woes

Sharp cuts in Kurdistan's budget by Baghdad, falling oil revenue, coping with refugees, inflated public sector have hit regional economy hard More

Koreas Exchange List of Envoys for Family Reunion Talks

Officials will discuss date, venue and number of participants for reunion; Seoul hopes to hold event late this month More

China Targets 197 in Online Speech Crackdown

Nearly 200 punished for 'spreading rumors' online in ongoing crackdown on free speech More

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.
Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 02, 2015 6:19 PM
Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.

VOA Blogs