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
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid