News / Asia

Gates Warns Coalition Not to Abandon Afghanistan

U.S. Defense Secretary Gates holds a news conference at a NATO defense ministers meeting at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels, March 10, 2011
U.S. Defense Secretary Gates holds a news conference at a NATO defense ministers meeting at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels, March 10, 2011
Al Pessin

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates called on NATO allies and other nations with troops in Afghanistan not to make what he called "ill-timed, precipitous, or uncoordinated" withdrawals after the United States begins its gradual drawdown in July. Gates met with representatives of the 47 other contributing nations and the Afghan defense minister Friday morning.

According to a strongly-worded advance text provided to reporters, Secretary Gates told the delegates he is hearing "too much talk about leaving" Afghanistan from European capitals, "and not enough talk about getting the job done right."

Gates said he recognizes that some European nations have lost many troops in Afghanistan, and some governments are under political pressure withdraw their troops. He called on them to "resist the urge to do what is politically expedient and have the courage of patience."

For many countries, including the United States, 2010 saw the highest casualty tolls in Afghanistan in the nine years of war.

But Gates said the effort in Afghanistan made "undeniable progress" in the past year, due in part to a surge of U.S. and coalition troops. He said security areas have been expanded and Taliban fighters are "demoralized."

He said they face a tough challenge as they try to retake ground in the coming warmer months. Gates said that territory is no longer the Taliban's "home field," but he said the insurgents "have shown their resilience in the past" and he expects "fierce fighting."

The United States will draw down some of its surge forces starting in July, as President Barack Obama promised when he announced the surge 14 months ago. But Gates said the United States "will not sacrifice the significant gains made to date, or the lives lost, for a political gesture." And he called on the partner nations to adopt the same approach.

He said "uncoordinated national drawdowns would risk the gains made to date," and that any troop reductions should be coordinated through the coalition commander in Afghanistan, U.S. Army General David Petraeus. The general also made a report to the meeting, but that was not made public.

The text provided by Gates' staff urges the representatives of the contributing nations to adopt a set of "implementing principles," which he says ensure that while the foreign troops withdraw gradually and transfer responsibility to Afghan forces there will be no lapse of security.

Speaking Thursday, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen also referred to that document.

"We will take the important decision to endorse the important recommendation from the Joint Transition Board, which will be the start of a process leading to increasing Afghan responsibility for security in their own country," Rasmussen said.

But Rasmussen noted that the process will continue until the end of 2014, and even after that some foreign troops will need to stay in Afghanistan.

"We will, of course, stay in a supporting role," Rasmussen stressed. "We will move from a combat role into a supporting role and assist if necessary."

In the speech text for Friday, Secretary Gates called on contributing nations to keep forces in Afghanistan even if the areas where they operate are handed over to Afghan forces. Gates said the foreign troops will still be needed in other areas, and for short-staffed training programs.

Gates also challenged coalition nations to contribute one billion euros annually to the development of the Afghan security forces, noting that the United States is planning to spend more than $12 billion next year for that effort, and is spending $120 billion annually on the Afghan campaign overall.

The secretary said a NATO failure in Afghanistan would leave the Afghan government unable to provide corruption-free justice and security to its people, recreating the situation that led to the rise of the Taliban 20 years ago. He said the coalition needs to work to make the recent progress "irreversible."

Gates called on the coalition to adopt an "in together, out together" approach. He said, "We can't lose our momentum, or give in to calls to withdraw before the job is finished." He told the delegates, "America is willing to shoulder the lion's share of the burden, but we cannot do it alone."

You May Like

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines 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.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid