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

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go 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.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More