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

    Video Russia's Expat Community Shrinking

    Russia's troubled economy, tensions with West have led hundreds of thousands of foreigners to leave for better opportunities

    Accelerating the Push Against Islamic State: What Will Work?

    Experts stress need to step up military action, address root causes of Muslims' disaffection, counter IS social media messages in a massive way

    Experts: N. Korean Abductions Sought to Halt Brain Drain

    Pyongyang abducted about 3,800 South Koreans and more than a dozen Japanese nationals in late 1970s

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.