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

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

This forum has been closed.
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.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs