News / Asia

Gates: Afghan Gains 'Fragile and Reversible'

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates speaks to US Marines during his visit to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment at Forward Operating Base Sabit Qadam in Afghanistan's Helmand province, March 8, 2011
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates speaks to US Marines during his visit to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment at Forward Operating Base Sabit Qadam in Afghanistan's Helmand province, March 8, 2011

Multimedia

Audio
Al Pessin

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates traveled to southern Afghanistan, the heartland of the insurgency, Tuesday where he met with local villagers and U.S. troops. Gates said the coming months will provide a key test of recent gains made by U.S. and Afghan forces.

On the second day of his visit to Afghanistan, Gates flew from Kabul to Helmand Province's Sangin District to tell U.S. Marines they have made a “major strategic breakthrough” in what he said was once “the most dangerous place on earth.”

From there, he flew to neighboring Kandahar, where he walked down a local road, past waving children, to meet with local elders and members of the newly established Afghan local police. Later, at an American combat outpost, he told reporters he was “very encouraged” by what he had seen.

“I do feel like the pieces are coming together, but I would continue to say what we have said all along. The gains are fragile and reversible. The fight this spring and this summer is going to be very tough. We expect the Taliban to try and take back much of what they've lost. And that'll really, in many respects, be the acid test of how effective the progress we have made is going to be,” said Gates.

Gates said if U.S. and Afghan forces can sustain the gains during the coming warmer months, the traditional fighting season, it will send what he called “a powerful message.”

Military officers say they face a tough challenge in Afghanistan as the weather improves and Taliban insurgents return from neighboring Pakistan to find their fighters dead or captured, and their former strongholds under Afghan and coalition control. Officials expect an increase in militant attacks against local security forces and government officials.

Gates said these former Taliban strongholds in the south will continue to need a strong coalition presence, but that the planned transition to Afghan security control can begin taking place elsewhere in Afghanistan in July.

“Beginning a gradual process that is based on conditions on the ground, that probably won't be here in the south or the southwest to start, probably is doable,” he said.

Gates said NATO's decision to continue combat operations for up to another four years helped convince many Afghans to come over to the government side and stop supporting the Taliban. Military officers say they have received an increase in tips from Afghans about insurgent bombs and weapons caches, and they hope this information will also help them fight the expected Taliban counterattack in the coming weeks.

You May Like

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani 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.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid